Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Wealthiest Nations not so child-friendly

According to a United Nations report, the United States and Britain are at the bottom of a U.N. survey of child welfare in 21 wealthy countries that assessed everything from infant mortality to whether children ate dinner with their parents or were bullied at school.

The Netherlands, followed by Sweden, Denmark and Finland, finished at the top of the rankings. According to the study, children fared worse in the U.S. and Britain — despite high overall levels of national wealth — because of greater economic inequality and poor levels of public support for families.

One of the studies researcher, Professor Jonathan Bradshaw of social policy at the University of York in Britain said that both United States and Britain did not invest as much in children as continental European countries do.

"What they have in common are very high levels of inequality, very high levels of child poverty, which is also associated with inequality, and in rather different ways poorly developed services to families with children," said Bradshaw.

The combination of a high rate of single mothers in both countries, and a decided lack in services to assist them has made it so that children often bear the brunt of inequalities and lack of effective social programs.

The world's wealthiest nation, the United States and Britain may not like the results. But the fact remains that the US and the UK have some serious work to do on child poverty.

In general, northern European countries with strong social welfare systems dominated the upper half of the rankings. Southern European countries, such as Spain, Italy and Portugal, ranked higher in terms of family support and levels of trust with friends and peers.

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