Well-Being Challenges for Children and Young People in the Nordics

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Well-Being Challenges for Children and Young People in the Nordics

Nordic governments has set up expert commissions to examine the well-being challenges for children and young people in the Nordics after increasing challenges with declining well-being.

New figures indicate that although most children and young people are doing well, almost half of the young people aged 16-25 experience a degree of decline in their well-being, and an increasing number of children and young people feel lonely. At the same time, there has been a considerable increase in the use of social media among this age group.

“I don’t have many friends, but the ones I have are good […] I don’t think I need more friends,” said Steve, 7th grade.

“School is not that good. I just lose a lot of motivation for things […] It’s mentally hard. Now we’re teenagers too, so I think it’s a bit like hormones doing it” said Tillie, 7th grade.

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Well-Being Challenges for Children and Young People in the Nordics
New figures indicate that although most children and young people are doing well, almost half of the young people aged 16-25 experience a degree of decline in their well-being. Photo: NordForsk

A good life begins with a good children’s life

It is in our first years of life that we form the foundation of how we manage further in life. How we evolve and shape our own lives. How we influence others.

Therefore, it is important that all children and young people thrive. And therefore, it is worrying that an increasing number of Danish children and young people currently are not thriving in their everyday lives and life course.

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Well-Being Challenges for Children and Young People in the Nordics
A commission will examine how to provide a basis for close relations and positive communities in the everyday life of all children and young people. Photo: NordRegio

Four themes

The Danish commission, whose target group is children and young people aged 0-25 years, will look at four themes:

Communities and relations: The commission will examine how to provide a basis for close relations and positive communities in the everyday life of all children and young people, where they can be seen and receive support if they struggle.

Early efforts and prevention: The commission will examine how children and young people’s well-being can be enhanced through structural interdisciplinary efforts, including how children and young people with early signs of declining well-being can be identified and receive support.

Joy of life and robustness: The commission will examine how to create the prerequisites for all children and young people to develop resilience and a belief in their own abilities.

The good digital life: The commission will examine how children and young people’s digital life has impact on their well-being, and how to improve their digital etiquette, security, and safety.

Well-Being Challenges for Children and Young People in the Nordics
The joy of going to school is waning, and too many children feel alone and left out. Photo: Nordic Cooperation.

The Nordic project

Tillie and Steve are two Danish school pupils who are part of a Nordic research project. Their statements come from qualitative interviews with children and young people in Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland and Iceland, which, together with questionnaire responses, form the key data sources in the first part of the project.

The joy of going to school is waning, and too many children feel alone and left out. Multiple children and youth are affected by poor mental health and illness. For some children and young people, the challenges are significant. Despite several efforts, 47,000 young people between the ages of 16 and 24 are still neither in employment nor in education.

The Danish commission will examine the scope and underlying causes of the declining well-being among children and young people, taking into consideration potential variations based on gender, social circumstances, and ethnicity. The commission is committed to delivering its recommendations continuously and must finish its work before the end of 2024 at the latest.

The Nordic study will run for three years and will repeat both questionnaire collections and qualitative interviews from school pupils in Norway, Sweden, Iceland, Finland and Denmark over the next two years. The students’ ages range from 4th to 10th grade. In addition, they have questionnaire responses from teachers who answer questions about the teaching profession. The quantitative questionnaires are supplemented with qualitative interviews with both students and teachers, data on strategies used to ensure Nordic values in the different countries, and observations of school practices.

Wellbeing of Children and Youth

A third Danish project, Wellbeing of Children and Youth, aims to improve the physical, mental and social wellbeing of children and youth in Denmark by 2040.

“We know that there is a correlation between whether children and young people are thriving and what their later health will be,” says Sine Agergaard, Professor, Mission Management, AaU.

Well-Being Challenges for Children and Young People in the Nordics, compiled by Tor Kjolberg.
Feature image (on top) © Nordic Cooperation.

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