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To agree that 'The UK had been labelled the worst country in the west for a child to grow up in.'

(60 Posts)
Buddhagirl Wed 10-Apr-13 13:17:08

"The UK had been labelled the worst country in the west for a child to grow up in. Politicians, church leaders and charities complained that a generation was being failed.

The evidence for this gloomy prognosis was a Unicef report on child well-being in rich countries.

The UK emerged an ignominious 21st out of 21 developed nations and Time magazine ran a front cover suggesting British children were "unhappy, unloved and out of control".

Now we have the much anticipated update and similar voices are out in force to make the same point.

Education Minister David Laws says the report "lays bare Labour's failures on education and child well-being".

I work in mental health and see this so much. "My mother never showed me love", "My parents never taught me how to cope" Obviously I will see people from a select section of society who suffer so not a good sample to base an opinion on and obviously there are a lot of good parents out there.

Do you agree with this article? If so why do you think the UK has been ranked 21 out of 21?

Toadinthehole Thu 11-Apr-13 19:58:41

The point of these surveys, as I understand them, is to identify ares where countries might make some improvements. It is rather asinine to shrug and say "it's all so great compared to Somalia, so let's do nothing".

My recollection is that the UK remains closer to the bottom than the top of most of these child-wellbeing lists, even if it has moved up them a bit (probably because comparable countries have been affected by the GFC).

SqueakyCleanNameChange Thu 11-Apr-13 19:42:23

So, OP. when we were bottom of the table, you thought that said something very important and true about how dreadful life was for children in the UK, that we should all take very seriously.

Now we're comfortably in the top half of the table for Western nations, (without even considering the countries where death, disease, malnutrition, illiteracy and war are widespread risks) and by far the most improved, do you think that says something important about how great life is for our children?

Toadinthehole Thu 11-Apr-13 19:35:14

Oh, and in NZ it is quite acceptable for a girl to be tomboy. On the other hand, I think studious boys don't have a great time, either in access to culture or the way they are percieved.

Toadinthehole Thu 11-Apr-13 19:32:58


I've noticed that too when I've been back visiting the UK from NZ. People down here don't make a huge fuss of children, but they are normally nicer to them, treating them like young adults in a phlegmatic, slightly avuncular sort of way.

NZ doesn't do well on these surveys - it has a dreadful problem with domestic abuse, children are more likely to be injured and killed in accidents, and (as someone noted above) a high teen suicide rate, but it does tend to finish above the UK on average. My observation is that NZers are quite robust in their parenting and in the way they handle children generally, they back themselve to know what is right for their child, and don't worry too much about whether they might get something wrong.

Another thing which I learned with some embarassment is that it is true that people in the UK (and I mean the whole of the UK, not just England) tend to moan a bit, and assume the odds are against them. This is true for children too, and I'm sure negatively affects their sense of wellbeing.

MyDarlingClementine Thu 11-Apr-13 19:29:33

Personally I don't feel much warmth towards DC here. I notice the difference as soon as I go abroad, so much sheer warmth directed at my DC, Italy/Spain/Morocco....

A DC cries here and you can feel people stiffen and give side looks - a Dc is long will it last.

A Dc cries abroad and someone will smile, try to distract, tuck under the chin, have a chat about it!

MyDarlingClementine Thu 11-Apr-13 19:26:29

westiemama Sweden sounds idyllic must be downsides somewhere.

Mitchy1nge Thu 11-Apr-13 16:08:49

hm very interesting

yesterday my youngest daughter (13) asked me 'why don't english people like children much?' (we are on holiday where about three out of every ten passers by makes a huge fuss of my grandson) she's noticed especially the difference in restaurants, shops, public transport etc. I think the 'seen and not heard' thing is still making itself felt today but I didn't know what else to tell her.

Oblomov Thu 11-Apr-13 15:58:59

"I am guessing that we were evaluating the UK on the level of happiness, we would also do quite badly actually."
Yet many of us on MN have roofs over our heads and not THAT much to worry about. We are well, well fed, children go to school, have presents bought for them. Want for not that much. yet we do nothing but complain ( I am THE worst at this wink) Comparitively. Like in the UK is THAT dredful is it?
Apparently not to 85% of the children they interviewed. I think that's pretty good.

Oblomov Thu 11-Apr-13 15:55:37

Tumble, I wasn't takign it to be a personal attack on my parenting.
And what you are talkign about, being normal, having the latest things, they were the same in the 80's as they are now. And thta doesn't happen in sweden and the like. Bet it does.
But I do believe children are listened to and cherished. Teenage pregnancies. well we've always had alot of those.
And I wonder what exactly they want the UK to do to catch up with the rest. Has it been spelled out to us?

flaminghoopsaloohlah Thu 11-Apr-13 14:21:24

I'd much rather my kids grow up here than the USA - at the rate the government is going the whole country is going to be ruled by religious dictatorship. Things may seem bad here...but there are a lot of plusses too.

TumbleWeeds Thu 11-Apr-13 14:14:37

hmm at people thinking that these stats means that their * personal* parenting isn't good enough...

What they mean is that the whole society is failing children. It's the way we parent children, the way all adults relate to children, school, expectations etc... All that impact on the well-being of children and therefore on the level of teenage pregnancy, the age teenagers have sex first time, levels of depression amongst children etc etc
These are what these stats are based on and clearly the Uk isn't doing well.

We can't just look at what we personally do or what is happening in poor areas (such as Marseille or London etc... Inner cities are always depressing)

When I listen to my 10yo, he tells me that other children are judging each other based on how many electronic toys they have, whether they do 'unusual' things (which is BAD). If you don't have a Wii then you, as a person, isn't good enough (Nothing to do with your parents not having the money or being very strict...). If you like unusual stuff (like mushromms) you stand out and you are a freak.
There is such a pressure on young people to have all the right STUFF (all material things) and very little aspiration for the future (what do you want to do? A footballer... And what about being a doctor, a plumber, visit the world, change the world and make it a better place, become a nurse or an artist???).

I am guessing that we were evaluating the UK on the level of happiness, we would also do quite badly actually.

Oblomov Thu 11-Apr-13 14:08:38

"the UK has moved up from 16th to 11th place, one of the biggest increases among rich countries, with more than 85% of British children saying they have a high level of overall life satisfaction."
So, 85% of those surveyed, said they were happy.
So thats good.
And who are these kids that have took part in the survey?

FreudiansSlipper Thu 11-Apr-13 13:59:31

a few years ago I was thinking of moving to the states. my family live in California. in some ways it is a lovely life but if you fall on hard times it is not at all the difference in the education and health care you get is staggering and the quality of life you can have very much depends on where you live. my nieces have in some ways things better than ds but less freedom to go anywhere alone until they are adults and can drive that really is a downside

I would imagine parents of young adults living in spain and Greece are vey worried about their childrens future too

we have to improve and wish would look to countries like Sweden regarding childcare and the need for community. the poor areas around paris and marseille are really depressing places to bring up children

givemeaclue Thu 11-Apr-13 13:40:52

Yabu, they are previous figures

Koyangwuti Thu 11-Apr-13 13:33:28

I've lived in a few countries in this world and while the UK is not what I believe to be the best place to grow up, I do believe it is a great place to grow up.

I think these kind of studies tend to come from people with an agenda and they are going to display the results the people commissioning the study want or the study would not be done in the first place. My children are very happy children who feel real gratitude for where they live and what they have. I think we as parents have far more control over whether our children grow up well or not than the country in which they happen to live. Wherever life may take me, I'm going to help my children be happy, have fun, and have a positive outlook.

Chockyeggpants Thu 11-Apr-13 13:25:25

Also many UK children are under a lot of stress, I'm thinking of children caring for their sick or disabled parents for example.
Also children with drug addict or alcoholic parents.

Chockyeggpants Thu 11-Apr-13 13:23:01

1. Yes there is poverty in the UK.
2. There is a lot of neglect going on, not just in the stereotypical poor or working class household, but in more affluent households too. How many well off parents like to give the child designer goods, gadgets etc instead of spending time together doing things and listening to their child?

EuroShaggleton Thu 11-Apr-13 11:38:35

Of course it's first world problems - by definition. The survey is focussed on developed countries.

MaryRobinson Thu 11-Apr-13 11:34:24

Sorry, meant to add that I do find the comments about rates of teen suicide and national Happy-think interesting.

MaryRobinson Thu 11-Apr-13 11:33:10

I think there is a massive difference between "I love my child" and "I feel loved by my Parents". They aren't the same thing at all, and I think that was the point OP made.

ATJabberwocky Thu 11-Apr-13 09:46:46

Completely agree with manicinsomniac, It's first world problems.

Oblomov Thu 11-Apr-13 09:46:03

I find this very hard to accept. I appreciate that sweden for example has many better things, sick days for parents to crae for sick children.

But that the UK is so low down. No. Sorry. TRIPE.
My parenting leaves alot to be desired sometimes, but my kids are loved and well cared for. This morning I had both of them in our bed for a cuddle and now they are sat downstairs watching tv.

KobayashiMaru Thu 11-Apr-13 09:43:28

I think its more that people in the UK are miserable moaners that can't see how good most of them have it. I don't know any other country that complains so much about everything.

2rebecca Thu 11-Apr-13 09:35:35

My kids are loved, well fed and housed and educated and have a wide range of interests. Their friends usually seem cheerful. A German exchange student thought the kids he met were friendly and had more freedom than many in Germany.
I'm not sure these lists of which country does best really tell you anything unless they are looking at objective measures like GDP. We still turn out more creative thinkers than most other countries.
My kids will be deprived in their relationships by the statistics in this report though because they class any child in a step family of living with just 1 parent as having poor relationships.

littlemslazybones Thu 11-Apr-13 09:24:15

I find it odd how those places where people believe children have charmed lives are those same places where the rate of teen suicide is very high, in particular New Zealand and Sweden. Although I'm not sure what that means, if it means anything, just that I find it odd.

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