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Facts and Figures

Despite the devastating effect bereavement can have on a child, no one knows how many children are bereaved each year - the data isn’t collected. However the Childhood Bereavement Network does its best to collate information from various sources. Here is what they tell us about childhood bereavement in the UK.

Bereavement is far more frequent than many people think


78% 11-16 year olds in one survey said that they had been bereaved of a close relative or friend (Harrison and Harrington, 2001)

On average, 1 child per class has been bereaved of a parent or sibling


In 2004, the last time a national survey was done, around 3.5% of 5-16 year olds had been bereaved of a parent or sibling (Fauth and others, 2012) - that is around 1 in 29 (or roughly one per classroom). In today's terms, that equates to around 309,000 school age children across the UK

At some point, all schools will be affected by bereavement


A survey of primary schools in Hull found that over 70% had a child on roll who had been bereaved of someone important to them in the last two years (Holland, 1993)

There are 112 newly bereaved children each day


CBN estimated these parents left behind around 41,000 dependent children aged 0-17 (based on 2015 estimates) - that's 112 newly bereaved children every day

One parent dies every 22 minutes


CBN estimated that 23,600 parents died in the UK each year (based on 2015 estimates), leaving dependent children - that's one parent every 22 minutes

The support children receive makes a difference


Support from surviving parents and schools are important factors in helping bereaved children realise their academic potential (Dyregrov et al. 2022)

By the age of 16, 1 in 20 young people will have experienced the death of at least one parent.


By the age of 16, 4.7% or around 1 in 20 young people will have experienced the death of one or both of their parents (Parsons, 2011)

Children living in disadvantaged areas and children attending special schools are more likely to be bereaved


Mortality rates vary by social class and geography, so it follows that children living in disadvantaged areas are more likely to be bereaved

Some groups may be more likely to experience particular kinds of bereavement


For example, mortality rates among disabled young people with complex health needs are higher than among the general population, so young people attending special school are probably more likely to be bereaved of a friend than their peers in mainstream schools

Source: Childhood Bereavement Network, 2022 (facts 1-7)


Harrison, L and Harrington, R (2001) ‘Adolescents’ bereavement experiences: Prevalence, association with depressive symptoms, and use of services’, Journal of Adolescence, 24, 159–169.

Holland, J (1993). ‘Child bereavement in Humberside’, Educational Research, 35, 3, 289–297.

Fauth, B, Thompson, M and Penny, A (2009) Associations Between Childhood Bereavement and Children’s Background, Experiences and Outcomes: Secondary Analysis of the 2004 Mental Health of Children and Young People in Great Britain Data. London: National Children’s Bureau

Parsons, S (2011) Long-term Impact of Childhood Bereavement: Preliminary Analysis of the 1970 British Cohort Study (BCS70). London:Child Well-being Research Centre.

Dyregrov A, Lutje M and S Rex Christensen, (2022). 'The price of loss - how childhood bereavement impacts education.' Journal of Grief and responses to death.