Survey looks at young Kiwis
The next generation of New Zealanders may be better behaved but many are also jobless and poverty-stricken.
New Auckland University research shows the country’s secondary school pupils are drinking and smoking less and driving more carefully.
But the number with after-school jobs has dropped steadily in the past 12 years to about one in four.
More are worried about their parents not being able to afford food, and about 10 per cent suffer from overcrowding, with their family using the living room as a makeshift bedroom.
Obesity, depression and self-harm remain significant hurdles for many young people, particularly in parts of New Zealand with high levels of deprivation.
The report is based on a 2012 survey of 8500 pupils from year 9 to 13.
It is the third Health and Wellbeing of New Zealand Secondary School Students report, with the first in 2001.
Terryann Clark, one of the report’s primary investigators, says there had been a clear decline in ‘‘risk-taking behaviours’’ among youths.
They were smoking and drinking less and getting into fewer fights.
‘‘The report indicates some strong positive trends which represent huge gains for the future of New Zealand,’’ Ms Clark says.
However, there remained a big gap in outcome for the ‘‘haves’’ and the ‘‘have nots’’ among secondary school pupils, which showed no sign of narrowing, she says.
Of particular concern was that more adolescents were now obese – about 12 per cent – compared with when the survey was last conducted in 2007.
More than a third were either obese or overweight, a number that jumped to more than 60 per cent in areas of high deprivation.
Teenagers in areas of high deprivation were less likely to have a job, a room to themselves or see enough of their parents.