New data reveals young people increasingly unhappy with their friendships

Ali Oliver responds to the findings and discusses the role that sport can play in creating strong bonds

As new data is released by the ONS around children's wellbeing and social relationships, Chief Executive Officer of the Youth Sport Trust, Ali Oliver, has responded to findings around the proportion of children aged 10 to 15 who are increasingly unhappy with their friendships.

The statistic fell significantly from 85.8% to 80.5% in 2017, with boys being the main driver of this change.

It is alarming to see that children are reporting a decrease in their happiness with their friends. Friendships form a vital part of our development helping us to become who we are, and having a sense of self. Throughout our work using sport, physical education and physical activity as vehicles for creating change and opportunities for young people, we see thousands of new friendships formed.

It is especially sad to hear that the percentage of girls reporting high or very high happiness with their friends has fallen from 84.8% to 80%. This weekend we held our Girls Active Coaches Camp which gave girls aged 16 to 18 the opportunity to meet likeminded girls, form strong female bonds, and learn how to inspire and engage their peers in sport and physical activity.

In a very short period of time we were able to support these young women to form relationships and bonds that were based on human interaction, not digital platforms and friendships formed without judgement or prejudice. 

Without the opportunity to make these connections and in turn inspire their peers, I believe we will see continued increases in mental health issues, and more young people left feeling isolated. We will do all we can to give young people the opportunity to form friendships through sport and love themselves for who they are – it is key to developing future healthy and happy generations.

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