Happy map for young people isn't a bundle of laughs

PUBLISHED: 11:32 10 January 2009 | UPDATED: 13:51 06 May 2010

YOUNG people in Herts have not got a lot to laugh about, according to a major new look at young people s happiness levels. The study gives every local authority in England a score on five measures: the emotional health of children levels of bullying parti

YOUNG people in Herts have not got a lot to laugh about, according to a major new look at young people's happiness levels.

The study gives every local authority in England a score on five measures:

* the emotional health of children

* levels of bullying

* participation in sports and volunteering

* substance abuse;

* how happy they are with their access to parks and play areas.

The findings suggest that children living in the county are less emotionally secure than their northern counterparts and more likely to abuse drink and drugs than teenagers living in inner London.

They scored 63 per cent on the emotional health scale which is roughly the nationwide average. This is despite the fact that the teenagers have a wealth of "positive activities" open to them including youth clubs, sports clubs or classes, arts, crafts and extra-curricular music activities. At 74 per cent, this is five per cent higher than the national average.

They are also lucky enough to enjoy a higher-than-average access to parks and play areas (54 per cent compared to 44 per cent nationwide).

But despite these advantages they are apparently more likely to abuse drugs and drink --12 per cent compared to the national average of 10 per cent. This could be because some of them are being bullied but then the incidence of bullying is only slightly higher than the national average of 48 per cent.

The figures were based on responses from 150,000 young people who took part in an annual survey conducted by Ofsted, the Government office for standards in education.

The findings are meant to be used by local authorities to set themselves targets to improve young people's lives by next year.

Local authorities which score badly on bullying, for example, are expected to launch new programmes in schools to tackle it.

The scheme is part of a Government shift away from measuring the effectiveness of policies for young people only in terms of their educational results in order to take into account new measures of happiness.

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