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Chinese public urges happier childhoods


16:52, May 31, 2012

BEIJING, May 31 (Xinhua) -- The results of a recent poll show that the majority of respondents feel that children today are not as happy as those of previous generations, and many agree that society as a whole should be held responsible.

A total of 53.2 percent of the 11,754 people who responded to the survey, which was conducted by the China Youth Daily and published by the newspaper on Thursday, said they think children today are not as happy as children in previous generations. And 11.3 percent said they themselves did not have happy childhoods, but the situation is worse for children today.

Meanwhile, a total of 57.5 percent have children of their own.

Over 78 percent agreed that society as a whole is responsible for the situation. About 51 percent said parents are also responsible and 44.3 percent said schools are liable, as well.

"Academic pressure and parents' thirsts for their children's success are the two major causes of unhappy childhoods," said Huang Hongji, a child study expert of Shanghai Normal University.

A total of 71.1 percent said that having little spare time due to too much schoolwork and after-school tutoring is a main contributor to the children's depression. "Parents' excessive demands" and "examination pressure" are also seen as leading factors, according to the poll.

Sun Hongyan, a researcher with the China Youth and Children Research Center, said her team surveyed over 200 primary and secondary school students in Beijing and east China's Zhejiang province, and found that even the children who claimed to be happy are not enjoying true happiness.

When asked what happiness is, most of the children answered that "getting good grades," "having friends" and "having free time" makes them happy.

"If a child just takes good academic performance as a major source of happiness and spare time becomes a luxury, how could he be really happy?" Sun said.

Lu Zhi, a children's book writer, said that parental stress, which is a reflection of the stress felt by society as a whole, could be a reason for their children's negative emotions and may destroy the children's childhoods.

Parents, however, said they are frustrated with the situation children find themselves in today.

"I don't think there are parents who really want to incarcerate their kids for study, but society's improper talent selection system, which relies heavily on people's educational background, has forced them to do so," said Sun, who is also a mother.

Most of the people surveyed believe that the lack of a lighthearted childhood may affect children's physical and mental well-being, lead to an aversion to learning and hamper their curiosity, vitality and independent thinking.

A total of 85.2 percent of respondents said children need happier lives with more play time and less homework and lessons.

To that end, Lu called on parents to first ease their own tensions and then pay more attention to their children's psychological health.

Huang said that in addition to academic performances that could influence potential future salaries, there should be more diversified standards through which to assess a person's achievements.

Meanwhile, in response to a question on what should most delight a child, over 71 percent said it should be a happy childhood and only 8.4 percent singled out an impressive transcript.


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