Young People into 2013

SHEU : nationally-recognised, since 1977,
as the specialist provider of reliable local survey data about young people's health and wellbeing

TWENTY SEVENTH YEAR OF DATA ABOUT YOUNG PEOPLE

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Young People : Angels or Demons?

This report, Young People into 2013, is a "unique contemporary archive" of young people from the Schools Health Education Unit (SHEU). Each year, since 1977, SHEU carry out healthy lifestyle surveys with young people and, in 2012, this involved over 93,000 youngsters. This report contains over 100 health-related behaviour questions and answers from over 68,000 pupils between the ages of 10 and 15. They tell us about what they do at home, at school, and with their friends. The data have been collected from primary and secondary schools across the United Kingdom. The report is the 27th in the series.

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Dr David Regis, Research Manager of the Schools Health Education Unit, says,
"Angels or Demons? When I first started working in the Unit in 1986, I saw two headlines about the first report. One declared, "Teenagers take homework and alcohol in moderation", while the other – looking at the same figures – summed it up as "Layabout lifestyle of the teenage tipplers". We have had 26 years of similar contrasting cuttings. The truth is, there is good news and bad news in the figures, and I never know why journalists would want to present only one side of the story."

Angela Balding, Survey Manager at the Schools Health Education Unit, says,
“Our latest 'Young People' report captures the attitudes of young people and, in particular, the changes seen from the primary to the secondary stage of pupils’ education. Despite the attention, drawn by some of the media, to extremes of young people’s behaviour, this report presents a more balanced view. For example, more 10-11 year old boys, than any of the other groups, continue to assess themselves as ‘very fit’ but perceived fitness, from youngsters aged 10-15 years, continues to decline both in boys and girls. However, since 1995 the numbers of 10-15 year olds, who have reported being ‘fit’ or ‘very fit’, has remained relatively stable.”

Dr David Regis, Research Manager of the Schools Health Education Unit, says,
"What's the point of this research?  Well, we never set out to produce a picture of the country, and this isn't really what we have done.  We do local research to tell schools and local authorities what the picture is like in their community.  At the end of each year we have a big collection of local studies which we combine to give an overall detailed picture of young people in our communities.  Some of the topics we report on here are also available from Government or other research, but many of the findings we report, we have not seen published elsewhere. We are always adapting our surveys around the country to keep up with local concerns, and also to include the latest thinking about why young people behave as they do."

Angela Balding, Survey Manager at the Schools Health Education Unit, says,
“This year we have continued to try and find links between some questions. For example, when asked about how many hours of sleep they had ‘last night’, the more sleep 14-15 year old girls get they are less likely to: ‘want to lose weight’; worry ‘a lot’; and ‘feel afraid of going to school due to bullying’ (see table below). Those working with young people should find evidence here of areas that need further work together with many examples of young peoples’ positive attitudes about healthy lifestyle choices.  We also see links between wanting to lose weight and skipping meals – no surprise there, I guess, but it's maybe not the best way to try and lose weight.  We also see differences in behaviour between boys and girls from different ethnic groups.”

Year 10 girls’ sleep patterns, weight loss, worrying and bullying:
Hours of sleep Would like to lose weight Worry ‘A lot’ Never afraid of going to school because of bullying
  % % %
Up to 3 hrs 77 82 61
4-5 hrs 75 77 68
6-7 hrs 72 67 73
8-10 hrs 59 59 77
 
It is clear that, for 14-15 year old girls in this sample, the more sleep they get they are less likely to : want to lose weight, worry ‘a lot’ and feel afraid of going to school due to bullying.


Dr David Regis, Research Manager of the Schools Health Education Unit, says,
"Journalists often always ask me, 'what is new this year?'.  As you might expect, this year's results are quite similar to last year's, and where they are not, it's not possible to tell from just one year's results whether a trend has started, finished or reversed.  But in this year's report, we have added a sprinkle of charts showing trends, so you can see for yourself.  We can see lots of good news about alcohol, drugs and tobacco (all long-term downward trends) and not such good news about skipping lunch (long-term upward trend).  We also see trends in wider society reflected in our figures: there is a long-term trend downwards in the proportion of young people who live with both their mother and father."
"Many authorities work with us in alternate years (e.g., 2008-2010-2012), and there are some series of figures which show this regional bias.  We particularly enjoyed the chart (below) for eating 'wholemeal bread on most days', which has been bouncing up and down around the figure of 25% for the last decade and more, showing it's a more popular food item in those authorities that work with us in odd-numbered years.  I guess this shows, for charts where we don't see such bouncing, young people around the country may have quite similar levels of that behaviour."


Angela Balding, Survey Manager at the Schools Health Education Unit, says,
“OFSTED published a report in May about Personal, Social and Health Education in schools, titled 'Not yet good enough'.  While there is a lot of good work done in schools, our report shows some of the many varied challenges facing young people, and should be an incentive to schools to make sure all young people get a full programme of PSHE from trained teachers.  We all know that young people won't thrive academically now or later if they are sad or upset, tired or ill, unfit or bullied, so it's in everyone's interests to help them adopt a healthy lifestyle.  But PSHE is not a list of do's and don'ts about your habits. And the things that might be developed in PSHE, such as self-confidence, co-operation, thinking ahead and decision-making, are just what our business and community leaders need.1"
1. A point made to us by Nick Boddington of the PSHE Association.

 

 


 

SUMMARY
CHAPTER 1 - Food choices & weight control
  • In the sample 63% of 14-15 year old females, 54% of 12-13 year old females and 37% of 10-11 year old females 'would like to lose weight'. This compares with 29% of 14-15 year old males, 34% of 12-13 year old males and 28% of 10-11 year old males who 'would like to lose weight'
  • 17% of Year 10 females have 'nothing at all to eat or drink for breakfast this morning' and 19% had nothing for lunch on the previous day
  • Less fresh fruit and vegetables are eaten as pupils get older and up to 24% report eating 3 portions of fruit and vegetables. 16% of 14-15 yr. olds and 27% of 10-11 yr. olds report eating 5 or more portions of fruit and vegetables 'yesterday'
  • Up to 75% of 12-15 year olds reported drinking less than 1 litre of water
CHAPTER 2 - Doctor & Dentist
  • Up to 23% of the 12-15 year old females, reported feeling 'quite uneasy' or 'very uneasy' on their last visit to the doctor
CHAPTER 3 - Health & Safety
  • Most 12-15 year olds report sleeping 8 or more hours 'last night'. There is a strong relationship between sleep patterns and a number of variables. For example, for 14-15 year old females, the more sleep they get they are less likely to: want to lose weight; worry a lot; feel afraid about going to school due to bullying
  • Up to 21% of young people say that safety after dark in ther area is 'poor' or 'very poor'
  • As they get older, fewer pupils follow advice about how to stay safe while chatting online
  • 17% of 14-15 year old males may carry a weapon for protection when going out
  • 34% of 10-11 yr. old females feel afraid (at least 'sometimes') of going to school because of bullying
CHAPTER 4 - Family & Home
  • Up to 42% of the 12-15 year olds walk, at least some of the way, to school
  • More females than males did homework on the evening before the survey, and they tended to spend longer at it. 36% of the 14-15 year old males did no homework at all 'yesterday'
  • Up to 80% of males played computer games after school 'yesterday'
CHAPTER 5 - Legal & Illegal Drugs
  • Since the mid-1990s there has been a general decline in the percentage of 14-15 year olds who smoke regularly. Around 97% of 10-11 year olds say they have never smoked. This figure drops to 64% (males) and 57% (females) by the time they are 14-15 years old. Around 38% of 12-15 year olds live in a 'smoky' home
  • Around 53% of the 14-15 year olds are 'fairly sure' or 'certain' that they know a drug user. 10% of 14-15 year olds have mixed drugs and alcohol 'on the same occasion'
  • Up to 15% of 14-15 year olds trend report taking cannabis and, as they get older, fewer pupils think that cannabis is 'always unsafe'
  • 28% of 14-15 year olds reported consuming at least one alcoholic drink in the 'last seven days'

CHAPTER 6 - Money

  • Up to 40% of 12-15 year olds (more males than females) report saving money recently
CHAPTER 7 - Exercise & Sport
  • Over 92% of the sample of 10-15 year olds report exercising at least on one day 'last week'. Around 70% of all males and 73% of 10-11 year old females report exercising vigorously on 3 or more days
  • 63% of 10-11 year old females think they are 'fit' or 'very fit'. This falls to 25% by the time they reach 14-15 years of age
  • Since around 1995, numbers have remained relatively stable for many 10-15 year olds reporting they are 'fit/very fit'
CHAPTER 8 - Social & Personal
  • 'School-work problems' are a worry for 50% of 14-15 year old females and 'the way you look' remains the main worry for 12-15 year old females
  • 66% of 14-15 year old females, compared with 50% of 14-15 year old males, want to continue with full-time education after Year 11
  • Statements from the 'Every Child Matters' section show a marked difference between the positive responses from primary and secondary pupils e.g. responses to, 'The school helps me work as part of a team' drop from around 81% (10-11 yr.olds) to around 42% (14-15 yr.olds)
  • Younger (12-13 year old) males continue to be the most satisfied group when 12-15 year olds are asked about how they feel about their life 'at the moment
CHAPTER 9 - Some responses from primary-age children that are not contained in Chapters 1-8
  • Up to 20% of 10-11 year olds report being picked on for 'the way they look'
  • 24% of 10-11 year olds report being approached by an adult who scared them or made them upset
Notes
1.SHEU is an independent research, survey and publishing company and the 'Young People into 2013' report is the 27th in the series and based on the work of one of its divisions - The Schools Health Education Unit. The Unit provides reliable baseline data for local needs assessment to inform plans in health, education and care.

2.The accumulated data from the hundreds of school surveys we support each year, involving tens of thousands of young people, is a valuable resource of information and provides many opportunities for research. We caution against simple reporting and interpretation of our databanks as being from 'a national survey'.


 

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Young People into 2013
ISBN 9781-902445-46-5 145pp

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