"The research was designed to test the hypothesis that “connectedness” – to family, peers, school and community – is predictive of subsequent health and wellbeing of young people. The hypothesis was confirmed, with “connectedness to family and school” most strongly predictive of subsequent happiness, self sense of identity. "
While the report online is not particularly detailed (the spirituality section is very skimpy) is does highlight some interesting factors about young people, things that it might be useful for youth group leaders to know about.
It shows that in general most children are happy with their parents and friends - boys in particular say they get on well with their families. Girls tend to be happier when they're in the younger age range and grow less happy from the time they're 12. Boys for the most part stay happy.
In regard to the girls' decrease in happiness, this is mostly put down to the onset of puberty. "Given that the average age that girls have their first period is 12-13, the explanation is likely to lie in the interaction between pubertal stage and social and cultural expectations. The onset of puberty has already been linked to increase in depression and increased rates of self harm among adolescent girls. In societies where expectations of girls are high, the levels of stress and anxiety among young women seem also to be higher."
There are a small group in both sexes who say they are sad most of the time around the time they're ten years old. However, the report doesn't show whether these particular children had specific reasons to be sad. Broken family relationships barely come into the report.
It was a slight surprise to me to see how early many of the children are starting to drink alcohol.
- Drinking becomes a normal behaviour for young people between the ages of 10 and 16.
- Between the ages of 12 and 14, the percentage of boys who say they drink alcohol on one or two days a month or more doubles - from 16 percent at age 12 to 35 per cent at age 14.
- For girls the increase is even higher, from 13 per cent at age 12 to 44 per cent at age 14.
- At age 14, more girls than boys report drinking, but by age 16, the boys have caught up.
- At age 15, over half of the young people in the survey say that they drink alcohol on one or two days a month or more.
- At age 16, 71 per cent of boys and 66 per cent of girls say they drink alcohol one or two days a month or more.
- Around three per cent of the young people in this survey are ‘serious’drinkers, drinking on ten days a month or more.
The survey was taken from around 50% European children, 30% Maori, and 20% of other ethnicities.