View Full Version : Once again - - US and UK rank last in child well-being!

02-14-2007, 12:10 PM
Once again the United States and Great Britain rank dead last in the UNICEF annual "report card" on the well-being of children in 21 industrialized countries. The Netherlands ranked the highest, followed by Sweden, Denmark and Finland. In overall issues of child health and well being - the US finished 20th of 21 (Great Britain was 21st), BELOW Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary!!!

The UNICEF report card ranks the countries in six categories: material well-being, health and safety, education, peer and family relationships, behaviors and risks, and young people's own subjective sense of well-being.

The United States came in LAST in health and safety, measured by rates of infant mortality, low birth weight, immunization, and percentage of deaths from accidents and injuries. This means we were at the very bottom among the industrial nations surveyed - and our infant mortality rates are worse than some Third World Countries. Once again, the US showed an substantial increase in the number of children living in poverty, which has been steadily increasing during every single year of the Bush Administration.

Britain was last in the family and peer relationships ranking, which measured such things as the rate of single-parent families and whether families ate the main meal of the day together more than once a week.

Britain also finished at the bottom in behaviors and risks, which considered factors such as the percentage of children who ate breakfast, consumed fruit regularly, were overweight, used drugs or alcohol or were sexually active.

The U.S. was next to last in both of those categories - probably not a big surprise.

You can read the full text of the report at http://www.unicef.org/media/files/ChildPovertyReport.pdf

So far I haven't heard any response from the President or Congress to this very shameful report - or any suggestions on how to improve the health and safety of the children in this country. People, we need to hold our politicians' feet to the fire on this - it is incredible that every year the United States' scores on this report card continue to decline, and the number of children living in poverty in one of the wealthiest countries in the world is absolutely shameful. I know that individually, we all do what we can when we see a need - but think of the needs of all those out there we don't see.

The President and the politicians think they can solve the problem of hunger in America by changing the name to "food insecurity" - how is that for the ultimate political double-speak - people in the United States no longer go to bed at night hungry - instead they experience "food insecurity". If the politicians and the pundits had to worry about where their next meal is coming from, they would be more than insecure - they would be desperate! Do they really think changing the label changes the problem? Or just hides it better? Sorry for the rant, but this just makes me so angry I can't see straight. Please contact your Senators and Representatives and tell them we want to see some ACTION, not just endless debates. Right now - 1 in 5 american children lives below the poverty line - for some, the school lunch our kids gripe about is their main source of food. How can this possibly be accepted in a country as rich as ours? I don't know the answers - I wish I knew who did. What I do know is that our leaders aren't even asking the questions!!

02-15-2007, 08:12 AM
I just heard part of this story on NPR yesterday. Thanks for bringing it to everyone's attention.

02-16-2007, 06:53 AM
It sadly is no surprise to me. Just look at how little we spend on education. It is one thing to SAY kids are important....quite another to spend the money on them.

02-16-2007, 07:02 AM
What a black eye...and not surprising. I get a state report called "Kids Count" from the Minnesota Children's Defense Fund. (I use the numbers when I write grants for our agency) and the numbers just seem to get worse and worse. They certainly reflect the same kind of information found in the UNICEF report. How sad. How do we fix such a trend? I fear for my grandchildren....

02-16-2007, 08:32 AM
I hate to get into politics here, but I think we as a country have to revise some of our thinking about free market economies and capitalism and realize there are some things more important than accumulating personal or corporate wealth. I think many people have a bias against the poor they aren't even consciously aware of - as though people were poor because they just aren't trying hard enough to succeed. I call it the "get a job" mentality. The sad thing is I see people every day who are working two - even three jobs - and still can't get enough money accumulated to get into a decent house or apartment because they can't afford all the deposits or pass the credit checks. And anyone who thinks housing projects are an answer obvously hasn't been to one lately - my goats are better housed than some of the children I work with through Girls Inc. or as a CASA. The buying power of the little their families earn has decreased every year, while the profit margins of the big corporations just seem to go up and up. Personally I think it's obscene that Exxon posted the largest corporate profits in American history but still get millions of dollars in tax breaks and incentives they obviously don't need - but I'm not an Exxon shareholder. And their lobbying power is obviously better because they have all that nice money to spread around. Meanwhile, our government cuts money for the school lunch programs.

Speaking of education, Kathy - don't you think it's ironic that the goverment imposes all these standarized tests and accountability measures - and too often teachers are the ones held accountable - unfairly - when a school doesn't make progress. Yet here is a report card where our government is failing across the board - and no one is being held accountable! Instead they're following the true and true method of attacking the messenger and discrediting the message - instead of looking at the countries that are getting it right and trying to fix the areas where we are getting it so horribly wrong.

Jody - I don't have grandchildren yet - but yes, I'm afraid of the future they will face. But I'm more worried - and angry - about the thousands of kids who will go to bed tonight without a decent meal or a warm bed and wake up tomorrow morning without the hot breakfast our kids take for granted. Not because the parents are bad people - not because they don't try - but because our government values corporate "welfare" more than children's well being. And maybe - maybe - if we all ask questions loud enough - something can change. At least I hope so.

02-16-2007, 12:08 PM
what needs to happen in eduation is that great teachers need rewarding, new teachers need incentives (the old "you get to keep your job" is insulting.) and people need to realize that all a test tells is how that child performed THAT particular day. Sigh....but how to "fix" it? If I had a quick easy answer for that, I'd be rich. Love, Kathy

02-16-2007, 08:26 PM
And while we are on the subject of unbridled capitalism, what about bankruptcy 'reform?' Credit card companies lobbied long and hard to get congress to finally pass a law to stop all of the 'deadbeats' (!?!) from filing bankruptcy so they could get repaid. What received little press, however, was the fact that in many of the bankruptcies filed in the year prior to passing of the reform act (according to a study done by a Harvard research group) medical bills represented the largest portion of the debt. No expensive cars; no mall spending sprees - doctor bills! The lack of affordable medical care in this country is shameful - and one of contributing factors in the low scores we receive for the care of our children.

02-17-2007, 10:57 AM
I would certainly agree on the medical bills - mine were unreal even though I supposedly had "good" insurance (BC/BS). I can see how you could easily be driven to bankruptcy - and I blame a lot of the credit card debt problem on the credit card companies themselves and their predatory lending practices. I hope the new Congress will re-visit the bankruptcy reform issue - since "bankruptcy protection" is a definite oxymoron under the current law - the only ones being protected are the creditors.