Korean children least happy among OECD states
By Yun Suh-young
Korean children and adolescents were the least happy among those in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) last year, a recent survey showed.
The Korea Bang Jeong-hwan Foundation conducted the survey with the Social Development Institute at Yonsei University last month on 6,791 elementary, middle and high school students nationwide. The foundation has been conducting the survey with the university every year since 2009 ahead of Children’s Day which falls on May 5.
This year’s survey, which was released Friday, showed Korean children ranking lowest in the subjective happiness level with 69.29 points against the OECD average of 100.
Korea scored lowest in the happiness category out of OECD countries for the fourth consecutive year in 2012. The score stood at 64.3 points in 2009, 65.1 in 2010 and 65.98 in 2011. Although the happiness level increased every year, it is still the lowest among OECD countries.
The subjective happiness level is a digitized score of six categories which are subjective health, degree of satisfaction with school life, degree of satisfaction with quality of life, sense of belonging, adaptability to environment and degree of loneliness.
In the category of education and lifestyle, however, Korean children and adolescents showed the highest level of happiness. For education, Koreans scored 133.85 points compared to the OECD average of 100. Austria showed the lowest satisfaction rate in education.
Also for lifestyle, Korean students ranked first with 128.42 points whereas Hungary scored the lowest with 87.3 points. The OECD average was 100.
The survey also revealed that the impulse in Korean students to run away from home or to commit suicide was also very high.
One in five students answered they felt the urge to run away and one in 10 said they thought about committing suicide. The impulse rate increased as students grew older. At least one in 10 students in high school said they had actually run away from home at some point.
The rate of students exposed to school violence was higher among elementary school students compared to middle and high school pupils.
The percentage of students falling victim to school violence was 18.32 percent for elementary school students whereas the figures were 13.07 and 6.21 for middle and high school students.
“This is why careful attention must be given to elementary school students to prevent school violence,” said Youm Yoo-sik, associate professor at the Department of Sociology at Yonsei University who led the survey.