New way of assessing children’s happiness

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A questionnaire that can be used to measure the happiness of children has been developed by the Children’s Rights Director for England Roger Morgan.

In the questionnaire, twenty statements, such as “I know what is happening next in my life”, “I get bullied”, “I am getting all the help I need” and “I am lonely”, are presented and each is given a score. Children tick the boxes for all of the statements that they feel are appropriate to them.

Dr Morgan developed this new assessment tool through discussions with children in care and those living away from home. “I wanted to ask children themselves what they thought happiness was so that I could better understand what makes them happy or unhappy”, he said.

During discussion with focus groups, children and young people were asked to explore what happiness meant to them. One group pointed to being satisfied with how things are for you as a major determinant of happiness, while another group stressed that happiness could depend on many different things for different people. Being treated fairly and with respect, being able to make decisions for yourself, stability, having support and being able to do what you want were all cited as key factors in happiness.

Dr Morgan found that children agreed more about what makes them unhappy than about what makes them happy. Factors such as lack of trust, being bullied, people being prejudiced against you, being treated unfairly, losing somebody who matters to you, not being cared for properly and being abused were all seen as things that could lead to unhappiness.

The report, Measuring Happiness, can be found on the Children’s Rights Director’s website:
www.rights4me.org

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