British Children's Lives Are Getting Better, Says Unicef

14/08/2014 16:48 | Updated 22 May 2015
British children's lives are getting better, says Unicef

Britain's children are getting healthier compared to our European neighbours as levels of obesity, drinking and smoking tumble.

That's the good news – now for the bad: unfortunately, we're still lagging behind in the areas of further education and employment.

The changes have emerged from the official chart compiled by the charity Unicef.

It ranks the UK 16th out of 29 developed countries, up from 21st (ahem, last!) place in a 2007 table.

The charity considered five areas, including children's material well-being, which looked at how they were affected by poverty and material deprivation. It also assessed statistics on health and safety, education, behaviour and housing conditions.

The reports suggests there has been an overall general improvement in UK children's experiences, compared with its previous assessment, which considered information from 2001-3. Britain has seen a fall in young people who are overweight, from more than 15, and children reported an increase in their life satisfaction.

But despite the drop in drinking levels, Britain also still had one the highest alcohol abuse rates by young people between the age of 11 and 15, which is said to affect about 20 of young people studying, compared with more than 80 of 15 to 19-year-olds.

As for the rest of the list, The Netherlands retains top spot, based on data from 2009-2010, followed by Norway and Iceland. The other countries at the top of the list were Finland, Sweden, Germany, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Belgium, and Ireland.

Romania remained at the foot of the table, behind Latvia, Lithuania and the United States.

The latest report, unlike those from 2007, does not take account of children's own assessment of their lives, when it came to working out overall well-being.

However, it notes that even in countries at the bottom of the ranking, more than 75 of British children saying they have a high level of overall life satisfaction.

Anita Tiessen, deputy executive director of Unicef UK, told the BBC: "There is no doubt that the situation for children and young people has deteriorated in the last three years, with the government making policy choices that risk setting children back in their most crucial stages of development."

The Children's Society said it was also concerned about the effects of the cuts as well as the low well-being among teenagers identified in the report.

"It is far too easy to assume that teenagers aren't as vulnerable as younger children or don't need as much support," said Lily Caprani, director of communications and policy at the charity.

But a spokesman for the Government said: "The data used in this report, which all relates to 2010 and earlier, underlines the urgent need for the government's reforms. We are determined to improve opportunities for children in this country."

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