UK kids amongst worst in Europe for wellbeing

Smoking, drinking, sex and drugs have been named among reasons why British children are ranked almost bottom of a European table of wellbeing.

The Netherlands came top while only Romania, Bulgaria, Latvia, Lithuania and Malta ranked lower than the UK, which came in at 24th out of 29.

The report, conducted by researchers at York University for the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG), looked at the wellbeing of young people up to the age of 19.

The table used 43 measures taken across Europe in 2006 to produce a ranking based on seven categories of wellbeing.

The categories covered lifestyle factors such as health, relationships, material resources, behaviour and risk, education and housing and environment.

BBC correspondent James Westhead said the study suggests little improvement since a similar report by Unicef two years ago.

Britain’s best ranking was 15th in ‘children’s relationships’, where they were quizzed on how well they got on with their classmates and parents.

CPAG, which is heavily dependent on funding from the Government, called for more state spending on benefits and tax credits.

Its briefing summarising the research dismisses the idea that the rise of single parenthood and the spread of family break-up have harmed children.

Blaming child poverty for the many difficulties British children face, CPAG chief Kate Green said: “The last time a child wellbeing league table was published, British people were shocked that the UK came last.

“This time we need a frank focus on why other countries are doing so much better for their children. Public resolve and political action to put children first are more important than another round of hand-wringing.”

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