Children from England, Scotland and Wales are more likely to have been drunk, had underage sex or used cannabis than most of their peers in other countries, an international survey shows.
The report, ‘Health Behaviour in School-Aged Children’, has been published by the World Health Organisation. It covers 41 countries and regions from across Europe and North America.
England, Scotland and Wales are listed among the ten countries where 15 year-olds were most likely to have tried cannabis at some point, and among the top eleven when ranked according to the percentage of 15 year-olds who had already had sex.
Among Welsh 13 year-olds, over a quarter of boys and girls reported that they had been drunk at least twice – the highest figure listed. Scotland ranked second, and England fourth.
The comprehensive survey of over 200,000 young people will prompt further calls for action to reduce levels of alcohol consumption, drug abuse and underage sex among Britain’s teenagers.
This is not the first time that Britain has been internationally recognised for failing its young people. A 2007 UNICEF report placed the nation at the bottom of 21 industrialised countries listed in terms of children’s wellbeing.
Earlier this year, the American magazine ‘Time’ exposed a crisis among British teenagers, which it concluded were: “Unhappy, unloved and out of control”.