Working out what’s going on in the minds of younger Australians can be both confusing and frustrating.

Are they happy, worried, feeling like they don’t belong, or all of the above?

A new survey of 47,000 children across Australia, aged between 6 and 18, may give us a better sense of what makes them tick.

The research, by the ABC’s children’s news program Behind the News, quizzed respondents on how often they worried about being different, bullying or arguments, family, friendships, schoolwork, world problems, their bodies, their futures, and their health.

Lisa Gibbs, one of the researchers analysing the survey and chairwoman of the Children’s Lives Research Institute, said it was surprising “the future” was the top worry among students.
But she said it could be a sign of children mirroring what the adults in their lives were feeling.

“Generally we do know that children are tuned into what’s happening in their home and what the adults around them are responding to, so it may a reflect a shift in concerns in their parents and adults in their lives.”

The survey also asked children if there was anything they would change about themselves or their lives. Again, body image emerged as a key issue for both boys and girls.

Forty per cent of boys aged 18 said they wanted to change their bodies, making it one of the most common responses for boys.

– Mark Doman, Inga Ting, Ri Liu and Alex Palmer


Read more: The Worrying Trend in the Minds of Young Australians

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