Education news

Looks among biggest worries for children going back to school, says survey

Many youngsters say one of their biggest worries about heading back to the classroom is how they look. Picture by David Jones/PA Wire

MANY young people say one of their biggest worries about heading back to the classroom is how they look, a poll has found.

Girls are more likely to have concerns about their appearance than boys as they return to school after the summer holidays, with children becoming more anxious as they get older.

The survey, commissioned by the Be Real Campaign, found that about one in four (26 per cent) of the secondary age pupils questioned said their appearance was one of the biggest worries about going back to school.

This was a higher proportion than those that were concerned about making friends, bullying, and getting in trouble, but less than the proportions that were worried about exams, homework, having new teachers and new subjects and classes.

The poll also found that of those, nearly a third (31 per cent) of girls said they were worried about their appearance, compared with 21 per cent of their male classmates, while more than 36 per cent of 16-year-olds said they were concerned about this compared with 17 per cent of 11-year-olds.

Pupils were asked if they had any concerns about specific parts of their appearance as they returned to school.

The most common answer was spots, freckles and bad skin, followed by body shape and clothes.

The Be Real Campaign was founded by youth charity YMCA and Dove.

Denise Hatton, chief executive of YMCA England and Wales, said: "Young people are constantly bombarded with images of unrealistic body types in the media, advertising and online, which can have devastating effects on their confidence and overall well-being.

"We know that some young people are so worried about their looks that it stops them from raising their hand in class or taking part in school activities, including PE.

"Schools are uniquely placed to support young people to hold positive discussions around body image with their peers and help reduce the negative impact low body confidence can have."

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