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An ACER study on Social-Emotional Wellbeing has found school-age children, especially girls, are struggling to cope (Bigstock)

Australia’s primary school age children are angrier, lonelier, more anxious and less able to control their emotions than they were five years ago, new research finds, despite the increased societal concern for childhood wellbeing. Source: The Australian.

The picture is no less bleak in secondary school, where more than one in two students say they feel “very stressed”, an upward trend since 2003, and 56 per cent say they have a hard time controlling their sense of worry.

Newly released data from the Australian Council of Educational Research Social-Emotional Wellbeing survey of about 500,000 primary and secondary students between 2018 and 2023 reveals a generation deep in emotional crisis and lacking the tools to manage their emotions.

And girls at all ages are struggling to cope more than boys.

The survey’s author, Michael Bernard, a California State University Emeritus Professor and former Melbourne University Professor, said many social-emotional indicators of wellbeing examined in the survey have worsened and barely any have improved despite all the genuine attention and effort by schools and parents and the millions of dollars spent to fund youth wellbeing programs.

Professor Bernard said the new numbers were staggering, even before looking at recent trends and “point to an absolute crisis in the wellbeing of Australian children”.


Anxious, stressed, angry and lonely: Australian children are struggling (By Stephen Lunn, The Australian)