THE welfare of children
in the UK has improved in a number of areas in recent years - yet
it lags behind that of most of its European neighbours, a new
report from UNICEF suggests.
In Report Card 11:
Child well-being in rich countries, the children's agency last
week ranked the UK 16th of out 29 developed countries, up from 21st
- last - place in 2007.
The Netherlands, followed
by Norway and Iceland, topped the list, which was based on criteria
of material well-being, health and safety, education, behaviour,
and housing and environment for the year 2009-10. Romania, Latvia,
Lithuania, and the United States were among the lowest-scoring
The report revealed a
declining incidence of youth obesity in the UK, falling from 15 per
cent to ten per cent, and an increase in children's satisfaction
with their own lives.
Yet the UK had one of the
highest alcohol-abuse rates - 20 per cent - among children aged
between 11 and 15, as well as the highest rates of young people
neither in education, employment, nor training; and fewer than 75
per cent of young people enter further education, compared with 80
per cent in other populous developed countries.
Commenting on the report,
the Association of Christian Teachers (ACT) condemned the UK for
"wasting huge amounts of UK talent" as children are "turned off"
from pursuing education, thereby increasing dependency and welfare
The Director of Strategy
at ACT, Clive Ireson, urged members of the public and churches to
support their local schools' care for pupils. "It is time for
politicians of all parties to stop meddling, allow some stability
for the education system, and to realise that the 'whole' child
needs to be educated," he said.
Last week, a study by the
Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealed that nine out of ten
children in the UK are happy with their lives.
Well-being - Children's well-being 2013, which summarised
responses from "Children to Youth" questionnaires attached to
household surveys since 2009, found that 89 per cent of the
children surveyed were "relatively happy" with their lives as a
whole. Four per cent said that they were unhappy.
Young people aged ten to
15 were questioned about how they felt about many aspects of their
lives: schoolwork, appearance, family, friends, and school.
Responses were recorded on a seven-point scale that ranged from
"not at all happy" to "completely happy".
The findings suggested
that family, friends, school, and appearance mattered most to
The research director at
the Children's Society, Gwyther Rees, said that the report from the
ONS confirmed much of what children had said in the Children's
Society's Good Childhood Report 2012 (
News, 13 January 2012).
"Most children are happy, particularly with their relationships
with family and friends," he said. "But there are still hundreds of
thousands of children who have low well-being, especially when it
comes to their appearance and school. These are issues we need to