, Volume 14, Issue 1, pp 67-80

Happiness and Well-Being of Young Carers: Extent, Nature and Correlates of Caring Among 10 and 11 Year Old School Children

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Abstract

Young carers often take on practical and/or emotional caring responsibilities that would normally be expected of an adult. For many of these children and young people, caring has been shown to have a detrimental effect on their lives. For example, caring at a young age appears to be associated with poor health and well-being, bullying and poorer educational outcomes. However, previous research has tended to be retrospective, carried out using small surveys of secondary school-aged children or to use qualitative methods with young people associated with caring projects. In contrast, little is known about the extent and nature of caring undertaken by younger children. This paper reports findings from a random sample survey of 10 and 11 year old children in the final year of their primary school education. 4,192 children completed the Kids’ Life and Times (KLT) online survey in 2011. Twelve percent of respondents to KLT said they helped look after someone in their household who was sick, elderly or disabled. Supporting previous qualitative research, this survey showed that children who were carers had poorer health and well-being, reported less happiness with their lives, were more likely to be bullied at school and had poorer educational aspirations and outcomes than their peers who were not carers. These findings suggest that teachers need to discuss the issue of caring with children in the classroom in a general and supportive way so that young carers feel able to confide in them and seek support if they need it.