Bullying main reason for unhappiness in young

25th October 1996 at 01:00
As part of the commission's consultation, around 1,000 children aged eight to 16 filled in a questionnaire on their attitude to punishment, adults, and how they get help when they are unhappy.

Ninety per cent believed that saying "Well done!" when children do the right thing helps them to behave better, but only a third believed that smacking has a positive effect.

A third said the punishment they received was fair "most of the time". The rest said it was "sometimes" or "never" fair.

Just over 60 per cent said they had ever felt unhappy about something at school, with girls (69 per cent) significantly more likely to admit this than boys (52 per cent). Under-10s and over-14s were likeliest to report unhappiness.

Bullying was the commonest reason for being unhappy at school, mentioned by 28 per cent of those who had ever felt unhappy, and by almost 40 per cent of the nine and 10-year-olds.

Problems with school work were only mentioned as a cause by 14 per cent of the children who had felt unhappy, and tended to affect the older children more.

Just over half of the sample said they had ever felt unhappy about something which was not to do with school. Girls were again likelier to admit this than boys, as were the under tens and over-14s. Most were linked to the loss of family, pets or friends through death or other circumstances, conflict in family or among friends, or unfair punishment or bullying.

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