Wednesday, February 14th, 2007
BBC World news was aflutter today over the results of the The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) report entitled, “Overview of child well-being in rich countries.” The Brits, it seems have taken over a place normally reserved for the United States: coming in dead last in child welfare.
The report takes a more inclusive approach to the measurement, and data quality varies widely across the rich nations that it surveyed, but the UK is at the bottom in many categories. Rest assured, America is still #1 in several categories, including: relative child poverty, percentage of single parent families, and the lack of overall health and safety for children. Paradoxically, while our children report getting plenty of exercise, they are also the second fattest (it seems that those pesky Maltese children edged us out).
Another seeming paradox is that one of the most tolerant countries on earth, the Netherlands, has many fewer children engaging in risky behavior than the United States. Of course, any Dutch person you ask will insist that this isn’t a paradox at all. The point of lax drug laws is to help demystify marijuana and other drugs for teenagers. Perhaps they have a point, about 50% more American 11 to 15 year-olds have smoked pot in the last 12 months compared to their Dutch counterparts. It might be worth listening to the Dutch - they came in first in the survey of child welfare among rich nations.
Below are some of the more interesting results from the report.