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One in five UK children report nightmares about climate change

by Matt Lavietes | @mattlavietes | Thomson Reuters Foundation
Tuesday, 3 March 2020 00:01 GMT

A child carries a sign during an Extinction Rebellion demonstration in London, Britain, October 12, 2019. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls

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A survey for the BBC also found nearly 60% worry about the impact climate change will have on their lives, and two in five do not trust adults to tackle the climate crisis

March 3 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - One in five children are having nightmares about climate change, according to a British survey on Tuesday, as students globally stage protests over a lack of action to curb global warming.

About 17% of children in Britain said worries about climate change were disturbing their sleep while 19% said these fears were giving them nightmares.

The survey of 2,000 children aged eight to 16, conducted by pollster Savanta-ComRes for BBC Newsround, also found that two in five, or 41%, did not trust adults to tackle the climate crisis.

Over the past year, millions of young people have flooded the streets of cities around the world demanding political leaders take urgent steps to stop climate change, inspired by 17-year-old Swedish activist Greta Thunberg.

Emma Citron, a consultant clinical child psychologist based in London, said young people were clearly fearful about climate change with the survey finding 58% were worried about the impact that climate change will have on their lives.

"Public figures like David Attenborough and Greta Thunberg have helped young people to voice their worries and we have to make sure that we as adults listen to them and ... help them become involved in positive change," she said in a statement.

"We all need to support them not to feel hopeless but rather to present to them hopeful and balanced messages about their futures and ensure that they get the right professional help if their anxiety is unduly high."

The American Psychological Association has said it was aware of reports of growing "eco-anxiety" in children, but research was needed to establish how common it was.

Britain's Oxford Dictionaries recorded a 4,290% increase in the term "eco-anxiety" in 2019, particularly among young people.

(Writing by Matthew Lavietes; Editing by Belinda Goldsmith; Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers the lives of people around the world who struggle to live freely or fairly. Visit http://news.trust.org)

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