Research by charity Central YMCA has revealed the biggest causes of harm to young people in Britain today - with failing to succeed within the education system, a lack of employment opportunities, and issues related to body image topping the list.

The research questioned one thousand six hundred 16-25 year olds in the UK about the major challenges they face and the factors most affecting their ability to build happier lives for themselves. Their responses have been used to create an index of issues - with the most commonly cited (i.e. that causing most harm) scoring 100.

Lack of employment opportunities came out top with 100, failing to succeed within the education system came second with 92, while issues relating to body image came out third with 86.

The research also investigated what young people felt were the main barriers to overcoming these challenges, with being in a low income bracket, a lack of or poor education, and health issues (including mental health) cited as the major concerns.

Rosi Prescott, CEO at Central YMCA said "The challenges facing young people today are wide, complex and constantly changing, which is why it's essential that we continue to listen to the needs of young people and find ways to address issues causing them harm."

"One of the results which might be surprising is the emphasis placed on issues relating to body image, revealing the vulnerability of young people to such concerns and suggesting the very real, lasting damage caused by low self-esteem."

Bottom of the list of concerns for youngsters included: lack of a political voice, with an index score of 5, a worsening environment (14), lack of access to training (14), sexual health (27), and the policy of austerity (30).

Rosi added "Our research has unearthed crucial insight into some of the biggest issues facing our young people today, and will help shape the future direction of Central YMCA. Central YMCA has been evolving its support for young people for over 170 years, responding to the needs of Victorian society, post-war Britain and now the modern digital age."

"It may be that the current age has a higher quality of life than previous generations, but the emerging challenges such as concerns about body image, or the impact of always-on social networks cause genuine harm, especially to the most vulnerable young people within our society."

"What's clear from the findings of this report is the interrelationship between the major challenges facing our young people. As a consequence, our priority should be to help people in the round, not in isolation. To address these complex challenges, the agencies supporting young people need to work in partnership and be open to all parts of society."

Young people face many issues including a lack of employment opportunities and having a positive body image

Young people face many issues including a lack of employment opportunities and having a positive body image

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