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UK, US worst places for child well-being, UN report says

The UK and the US are the worst places for children's quality of life and the Netherlands and Sweden are the best, according to a report on 21 industrialized countries by the United Nations Children's Fund.

The UNICEF report, released today, uses 40 indicators to gauge children's well-being. The study found no solid relationship between the wealth of a country and children's welfare. The UK ranks poorly in factors such as quality of relationships, behavior, health and safety, according to the report. The country has the worst levels of youth drunkenness and teenage sexual relations. „For the last two decades, we have failed to invest in children,” said Jonathan Bradshaw, a University of York professor who helped to compile the UK data. He was speaking at a London press conference. „It's a pretty bleak picture.”

A Department for Education and Skills representative said UNICEF data for Britain are a few years old and don't reflect recent improvements such as a drop in teenage pregnancy. Rob Williams, the CEO of the Office of the Children's Commissioner, told Bloomberg Television the problem is „severe and complex.” While some factors might have improved, others have worsened, such as child obesity rates, Williams said. „That can't be acceptable in one of the world's richest countries,” said David Bull, UNICEF's executive director for the UK. The US ranks last in health and safety, with the highest rates of relative child poverty and teenage obesity, according to the report. Only 60% of US children live with both parents, compared with 90% in Greece, the report said. Swedish youth are least likely to be bullied and Dutch children are most likely to report themselves satisfied with life, according to the UNICEF research. (Bloomberg)