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National survey finds kids have it tougher than their parents

Tuesday, 4 Jun 2019

According to parents, children these days face bigger challenges to their health and safety, compared to when they were kids – with bullying and online safety key concerns.

With the support of Hyundai Help For Kids, we surveyed more than 1000 Australian parents and found that the majority of parents believe obesity, bullying, resilience, online safety, illegal drugs and misuse of medicines are more of a concern for kids now compared to when they were growing up.

However, some issues remained the same throughout the generations. Around half of parents surveyed thought alcohol misuse (47.4%), smoking (44.5%), and road safety (52.4%) were of a similar concern.

Parents were also asked to rank their top issues for preschool-aged (3-6), lower primary (7-9), upper primary (10-13) and secondary school students (14-17).

Bullying and online safety were parents top concerns

Key findings include:

  • Overall, online safety and bullying are parents’ top concerns, with 80% of parents ranking these issues as ‘very important’
  • Road safety was the top concern for preschool-aged kids (75.7% parents ranked it as ‘very important’)
  • Online safety (87.1% ‘very important) and illegal drugs (85.9% ‘very important’) topped the list for the 14-17 year age group
  • Parents in regional Australia were, in general, less concerned about these issues then their city counterparts, with the exception being bullying (89% of regional parents ranked bullying ‘very important’, compared to 85% for metro parents).

The majority of parents agree that schools and families were struggling to deal with these issues. More than 80% said there was a need for more health and safety education, and almost 80% (78.9%) agree that teachers needed support to help deliver this education in schools. Almost half of parents surveyed (46.8%) said they need additional support in the home.

Life Ed CEO, Verity Blackman, said children today are growing up in an increasingly complex online world, and were facing different challenges compared to their parents.

“Although we are seeing some promising trends including a decrease in smoking and alcohol consumption rates among young people; obesity, bullying and online safety are growing concerns,” Ms Blackman said.

Things have changed since we were kids: in an online world, bullying can follow kids from the playground to the home.

“It’s no surprise that our most popular programs across the country are our bCyberwise (online safety) and Relate Respect Connect (respectful relationships) modules.

“Schools and families need help to tackle the big issues. For 40 years, Life Ed has been supporting schools and families to raise the next generation of healthy young Australians,” Ms Blackman said.

Since 2017, Hyundai Help For Kids has supported Life Ed to capture important parent insights about children’s health and wellbeing, which enables Life Ed to be responsive to the needs of families.

Hyundai Help for Kids spokesperson Ellenore Ibrahim said, “Hyundai Help for Kids is proud to partner with Life Education and support them to adapt to the new challenges facing children and families today. We’re in the partnership for the long haul, to help kids across Australia live their best lives.”