The global children’s charity Unicef (United Nations Children’s Fund) has rated the UK 16th out of 29 countries in the overall welfare of its children, and they warn that the problem is getting worse. Anita Tiessen, Unicef’s Deputy Executive Director, said that over the last three years government spending cuts have made the situation even less encouraging for young people in the UK.
According to Unicef’s statistics, more than £300 million was cut from children’s services in 2011-2012, and their report warns that by 2015 another 400,000 young people will be in what’s considered child poverty. Tiessen suggested that government policy choices “. . .risk setting back children in their most serious stages of development.”
The report also has Britain at the bottom of the heap (29th place) when it comes to higher education and 27th on teenage pregnancy, with teen unemployment at 24th. Overall the suggestion is that if the government doesn’t take note and take action, society will eventually pay the price.
Taking all aspects of child welfare from basic poverty with a lack of proper nourishment to the issues of substance abuse and lack of exercise, Unicef’s report indicates that there is no significant relationship in a country’s per-capita GDP and the healthy development of its children. Some of the small central and eastern European countries are doing better than large established economies.
Breaking it down into cause and effect, the conclusions are rather foreboding. Poor cognitive development results in lower levels of academic achievement, which leads in turn to reduced skills and lower earnings. From there posit greater reliance on welfare, higher percentage of drug and alcohol abuse, criminal behavior and increased teen pregnancies.
The report states in no uncertain terms that “As a moral imperative the need to promote the welfare of children is widely accepted. As a pragmatic imperative it is equally deserving of priority.” The kids who are neglected and undereducated today are the ones who will constitute an increasing percentage of adults who lack the values and skills needed to deal with the world around them.