News

First-ever child loneliness stats reveal that one-in-10 feel lonely

The ONS data also reveals that inner-city kids and those on free school meals suffer more

Youth homelessness

More than one-in-ten children have reported suffering loneliness in the Office of National Statistics’ first-ever report into child loneliness.

A total of 11.3 per cent of children surveyed reported that they were often lonely with the feeling most prevalent for kids aged between 10 and 12.

The statistics also uncovered a link between loneliness and kids who eat free school meals – that was the case for more than 25 per cent of kids receiving dinners, while just five per cent of kids without reported feeling lonely.

There was a similar disparity between the proportion of inner-city kids who struggled with loneliness compared to those growing up in rural areas. Just five per cent of countryside kids feeling lonely, while city life left almost 20 per cent of kids feeling that way.

Statisticians also uncovered correlation between poor health and family relationships and feelings of loneliness.

“We’ve looked at how often children and young people feel lonely and why. An important factor is going through transitional life stages such as the move from primary to secondary school and, later, leaving school or higher education and adapting to early adult life,” said Dawn Snape, assistant director, sustainability and inequalities division, Office for National Statistics. “This work supports the government’s loneliness strategy, announced by the Prime Minister in October 2018.”

The figures will be an eye-opener for new Minister for Loneliness Mims Davies, who took up the post a month ago following the resignation of Tracey Crouch in a row over fixed-odds betting machines.

She is responsible for implementing the government’s loneliness strategy, which includes enlisting the help of GPs and postmen to identify and refer lonely people to the support they need.

But Sam Royston, director of policy and research at The Children’s Society, which was involved in the ONS research, has led the calls for more support for children in secondary school.

“Now that the heartbreaking scale of loneliness among children has been laid bare, it’s time for action to put more support in place and understand the underlying issues,” he said.

“Loneliness can be something that passes and we see many children who use our services move through these difficult periods. However, for some children, loneliness can lead to mental health issues and mean they struggle alone to cope with other challenges in their lives. In the most serious cases it can leave them more susceptible to grooming by sexual predators or criminal gangs.”

Support the Big Issue

For over 30 years, the Big Issue has been committed to ending poverty in the UK. In 2024, our work is needed more than ever. Find out how you can support the Big Issue today.
Vendor martin Hawes

Recommended for you

View all
FOSO is the new FOMO: Why are we so afraid to switch off and be out of office?
Work

FOSO is the new FOMO: Why are we so afraid to switch off and be out of office?

Almost no recorded cases of disability benefit fraud despite DWP crackdown: 'PIP fraud is a non-issue'
dwp pip/ disabled person
Disability benefits

Almost no recorded cases of disability benefit fraud despite DWP crackdown: 'PIP fraud is a non-issue'

Deaf man awarded £50,000 after 'oppressive' and 'discriminatory' treatment by DWP
dwp jobcentre
Department for Work and Pensions

Deaf man awarded £50,000 after 'oppressive' and 'discriminatory' treatment by DWP

Green transition: Help retrain gas workers or risk 'cliff edge' job losses, government warned
Green transition

Green transition: Help retrain gas workers or risk 'cliff edge' job losses, government warned

Most Popular

Read All
Renters pay their landlords' buy-to-let mortgages, so they should get a share of the profits
Renters: A mortgage lender's window advertising buy-to-let products
1.

Renters pay their landlords' buy-to-let mortgages, so they should get a share of the profits

Exclusive: Disabled people are 'set up to fail' by the DWP in target-driven disability benefits system, whistleblowers reveal
Pound coins on a piece of paper with disability living allowancve
2.

Exclusive: Disabled people are 'set up to fail' by the DWP in target-driven disability benefits system, whistleblowers reveal

Cost of living payment 2024: Where to get help now the scheme is over
next dwp cost of living payment 2023
3.

Cost of living payment 2024: Where to get help now the scheme is over

Strike dates 2023: From train drivers to NHS doctors, here are the dates to know
4.

Strike dates 2023: From train drivers to NHS doctors, here are the dates to know