Young People into 2012

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as the specialist provider of reliable local survey data for schools and colleges


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Examples of press coverage:  

Teenagers worried over sleep levels

More than half of girls are unhappy with their figures despite being healthy or underweight

This report, Young People into 2012, is a unique contemporary archive of young people from the Schools Health Education Unit. There are over 100 health-related behaviour questions and answers from over 31,000 youngsters 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 26th in the series.

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Angela Balding, Survey Manager at the Schools Health Education Unit, says,
"An important aspect of the latest "Young People" report is to have indications of the behaviours of both primary and secondary school pupils. Some surveys have involved individual secondary schools at the same time as their feeder primary schools. The tables in 'Young People into 2012' show clearly the changes of behaviour as children move to secondary school and begin to mature. There are some interesting differences between the two age groups that appear in a very few years - like in the proportion of females who say they would like to lose weight and those pupils in Years 6 and 10 who say they have 'never tried' smoking. The report offers a valuable insight and should give heart to those working with young people - there is a lot of good news here."
Dr David Regis, Research Manager of the Schools Health Education Unit, says,
"Last year was our landmark 25th year, where we reflected on some of the long-term trends in our figures. This year puts a 26th spot on each of the charts, and confirms many of the changes we have noticed already. So, we have more teetotallers, fewer eating crisps on most days, and about the same level of concern about bullying."

"It's a mixed picture, which I think will not provide support for complacency nor for people who want to say we are going to hell in a handbasket. When I first started working in the Unit, we had a headline about our work, "Layabout lifestyle of the teenage tipplers", and we have 25 years of similar cuttings. The reality was and is more complicated than that, of course."

"For example, in a mixed class of 30 Year 6 pupils, made up of the same sorts of youngsters who comprised our sample, a teacher can expect to be looking at 8 pupils who had 5 portions of fruit and veg to eat yesterday but 2 who had none. Probably none will be current smokers, maybe one will have experimented with cigarettes. Three or four will be fairly sure that they know someone personally who uses drugs. 10 will have spent their own money on sweets or chocolate last week. 24 will at least sometimes play physically active games during breaktimes. All but four or five will have brushed their teeth at least twice yesterday."

"Meanwhile, up the road in a secondary school classroom, a colleague, teaching a mixed Year 10 group who also match our sample, can expect to be looking at 5 pupils who had 5 portions of fruit and veg to eat yesterday but four who had none; in the class will be 4 girls (out of 15) who had nothing to eat for breakfast that day. 5 of all 30 pupils will have had an alcoholic drink last week and 4 or 5 might be current smokers; 3 will have smoked cannabis at least once in their lives. 19 will be living with both parents; three will think there are no adults they can trust. Maybe 20 will have had 8 or more hours' sleep last night."

"In the same Year 10 class, there's about an even chance that one will have very low self-esteem while the self-esteem of 12 will be buoyant; two will usually feel very uneasy meeting people their own age for the first time while more than 2/3 of the class will be quite sanguine about it. One will feel not at all happy with their life. 21 will enjoy sport and physical activities at least 'quite a lot', but one or two will enjoy them 'not at all'. Four or five will have a current paid term-time job. Only a third of them will understand what Chlamydia is and whether or not it can be cured, while 18 will know of a local young people's sexual health service. 6 will have been bullied at school in the last year."

"Talking to teachers and other professionals concerned with young people's wellbeing, we have heard a lot of concern about the Internet, whether it be cyberbullying or Internet porn. Our clients all seem to want to know slightly different things about the young people in their area, so we don't have good overall figures for many questions. We do know that about 80% of all pupils aged 10-15 can recall having been told how to stay safe when chatting online. 7% of males and twice as many females have received an chat message that scared or upset them. "

"We have a couple of headlines from local surveys:
34% of pupils in one authority have looked online for pornographic or violent images, films or games.

5% of pupils in the same authority have ever had images sent of themselves that they have been embarrassed by or upset about sent.

10% of pupils in another authority have been bullied over the Internet; this is in keeping with figures in some other studies."

Young People into 2012 ISBN 9781-902445-45-8 148pp

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CHAPTER 1 - Food choices & weight control
  • In the sample 58% of 14-15 year old females, 51% of 12-13 year old females and 34% of 10-11 year old females 'would like to lose weight'. This compares with 28% of 14-15 year old males, 34% of 12-13 year old males and 25% of 10-11 year old males who 'would like to lose weight'
  • 26% of Year 10 females have 'nothing at all to eat for breakfast this morning' and 20% 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 26% of 10-11 yr. olds report eating 5 or more portions of fruit and vegetables 'yesterday'
  • Up to 77% drank less than 1 litre of water 'yesterday'
CHAPTER 2 - Doctor & Dentist
  • Up to 22% 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
  • 49% of 14-15 year old females report taking painkillers on at least one day during the previous week. There was a positive correlation between worrying about 3 or more topics and taking painkillers
  • Bullying - 36% of 10-11 yr. old females feel afraid (at least 'sometimes') of going to school because of bullying. As pupils get older, fewer say their school takes bullying seriously.
  • Up to 27% of young people say that safety after dark is 'poor' or 'very poor'
  • 18% of 14-15 yr. old females report ever being upset or scared by chat messages online
  • Up to 28% never try to avoid sunburn
CHAPTER 4 - Family & Home
  • Up to 65% of 12-15 year olds live with both parents
  • Up to 42% of the sample 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. Around 40% of the 12-15 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 96% of 10-11 year olds say they have never smoked. This figure drops to 67% (males) and 61% (females) by the time they are 14-15 years old. Around 36% of 12-15 year olds live in a 'smoky' home.
  • Around 44% of the 14-15 year olds are 'fairly sure' or 'certain' that they know a drug user. 11% of 14-15 year olds have mixed drugs and alcohol 'on the same occasion'
  • A declining trend report taking cannabis (up to 11% of 14-15 year olds in 2011)
  • Up to 18% of 14-15 year olds reported drinking in the 'last seven days'

CHAPTER 6 - Money

  • Around 36% of pupils save money and there is a slightly declining trend from around 2005
CHAPTER 7 - Exercise & Sport
  • Over 90% of the sample of 10-15 year olds report exercising at least on one day 'last week'. Around 70% of all males and 64% of 10-11 year old females report exercising vigorously on 3 or more days
  • 61% of 10-11 year old females think they are 'fit' or 'very fit'. This falls to 26% by the time they reach 14-15 years of age
  • From 1991 there is an upward trend (10%-25%) of 14-15 year old females that report being 'unfit'
CHAPTER 8 - Social & Personal
  • School exams and tests are a worry for 57% of 14-15 year old females
  • Up to 35% of older pupils report enjoying 'most' school lessons
  • 69% of 14-15 year old females, compared with 55% of 14-15 year old males, want to continue with full-time education after Year 11
  • Statements from the 'Every Child Matters' CHAPTER show a marked difference between the positive responses from primary and secondary pupils e.g. responses to, 'My work is marked so I can see how to improve it' drop from around 90% (10-11 yr.olds) to around 46% (14-15 yr.olds)
  • 'Friends' remain an important resource when help is needed with issues about: 'The way you look', 'Problems at home', and ' Relationships with boy/girlfiends'
CHAPTER 9 - 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 you look'
  • Around 26% report being approached by and adult who scared them or made them upset
1.SHEU is an independent research, survey and publishing company and the 'Young People into 2012' report is the 26th 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'.