UK near bottom in Europe for child wellbeing

Tue Apr 21, 2009 4:54am EDT
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By Stefano Ambrogi

LONDON (Reuters Life!) - Britain is one of the worst countries in Europe for children to grow up in, according to a survey, as campaigners called for 3 billion pounds ($4.35 billion) to be spent on halving child poverty by 2010.

Researchers from York University for the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) charity found that Britain ranked 24th out of 29 countries examined.

The Netherlands came top of the child wellbeing table, followed by Sweden, Norway, Iceland, Finland and Denmark, based on data from 2006.

The UK came well below countries of similar affluence and only Romania, Bulgaria, Latvia, Lithuania and Malta, which came bottom, fared worse.

The findings echoed those of a 2007 United Nations report on children's wellbeing which put Britain and the United States at the bottom, and the Netherlands, again, at the top.

The latest study drew on 43 separate indicators affecting children up to 19 years of age, ranging from health, poverty, education and behavior to relationships and how youngsters felt about their lives.

"The UK position is particularly influenced by the high number of children living in families where no parent works," it noted.

CPAG's Chief Executive Kate Green said: "The last time a child wellbeing league table was published, British people were shocked the UK came last. This time we need a frank focus on why other countries are doing so much better for their children.   Continued...