47 3 mins 15 yrs

The UK and US have come bottom of Unicefs league on child well being. Whilst European countries dominate.  The wide ranging report examines general well being.  In ‘risk behaviours’ the UK is at the foot of the rankings by "a considerable distance". (Risk behaviours being defined as smoking, being drunk, using cannabis, fighting and bullying and sexual behaviour).  Their subjective sense of well being also falls well short.  You dont need Unicef to tell us these problems. They are obvious.  In covering the report last night Newsnight interviewed a range of kids and covered a number of issues.  The issue of boundaries came up.  The lack of them.  Parents and kids are fearful of each other, parents don’t or are unable to establish boundaries and probably lack even basic parenting skills, and kids are frightened of their peers. Kids didnt feel that families spend enough time together, one mentioned there is ‘nothing to do except have sex and drink’ – and they dont rate their own sense of self worth very highly.   Typically Labour blamed poverty.  The Tory shadow minister however seemed to be more on the right track.

"I don’t actually think government has the answer to all these problems.  This is not all about politicians in Westminster passing laws, it’s about social responsibility, it’s about parents taking greater responsibility for their children, it’s about trusting teachers in classrooms, it’s about us as neighbours in a society playing our part as well…. children also need boundaries and those in charge of children, whether its teachers in the classroom, need greater responsibilities in terms of disciplining those children, but also parents need to play their part."

I dont think we have a great sense of family here in comparison to our European neighbours – and government could do something to improve that, he touches on that himself since disciplining kids will land you in court – you could consider offering similar financial support support packages for families to spend more time with their kids, encourage other skills in kids who arent academic rather than merely forcing everyone through a weak low level university system or onto welfare and early parenthood.  But ultimately no, he’s right the government does not have all the answers.

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47 thoughts on “bottom of the league

  1. I also kinda agree with the Conservative guy. This is NOT about Government assuming a greater parental role,in fact one could and should argue that Government has undermined the parent/child relationship through its endless desire to assume the role of Nanny State.

    The family lies at the heart of everything – but families in the UK (AND elsewhere) are increasingly marginalised by socialist EU politics. Individual human rights trump everything, the institution of marriage is sidelined in the rush to elevate gay relationships, and sensible tax breaks to encourage people to stay together are removed.

  2. Interesting that the top four are are all uber-liberal high-tax, high-welfare countries, routinely sneered at on ATW:
    1. Netherlands
    2. Sweden
    3. Denmark
    4. Finland

    While the bottom two are the USA (shock, horror!) and the UK, both of which have a culture of rampant individualism and long working hours.

    Must be a coincidence.

  3. David Vance,
    might have something to do with the fact that in these liberal places people actually report most suicides rather than society stigmatising the issue as they do elsewhere.

  4. "children also need boundaries and those in charge of children, whether its teachers in the classroom, need greater responsibilities in terms of disciplining those children, but also parents need to play their part."

    I see it is down to the teachers again! I don’t know about greater responsibility, they need greater authority and empowerment to discipline children!

  5. I dont think we need the report to tell us whats obvious.

    Im scared of the kids on the bus, parents/teachers are scared of the kids generally and they are scared of each other. They’re aggressive anti-social, miserable and the surprising thing is not all of them are what you might define as ‘working class’ – a term i use loosely since i mean welfare classes. ‘Yummy middle class mummies’ will stand around in cafes in Islington and happily let their toddlers scream and throw hissy fits whilst gazing on ignoring them, everyone else gets to put up with it. Cant deal with wont deal with it attitude prevails.

  6. Alison, agreed.

    Standards of behaviour in public have declined at all levels of society. In particular there is often no attempt made by parents to keep young children under control, so they grow up to be ill-disciplined louts.

  7. David – i think both successive governments are to blame. On the one hand you have the politicies of self which I cherished under Thatcher, the right to self-determination, making a living and the importance of standing on your own two feet – as a society we become richer and better off and as a global economy kicks in we all end up needing two incomes to survive. You then get a Labour government which reaps the benefits of this but chooses to mollycoddle through the State and wrack up welfare dependence. Some welfare families i see in Islington shop in M&S Food, a place id go for luxuries. You cant deny them that because as far as they are concerned that is whats ‘owed’ them – the same upper echelon living style as everyone else. Two successive sets of policies which have to a greater or lesser degree increased the idea of Me, the fall out is to undermine the family completely.

  8. I’d hesitate to call Sweden "liberal". It is a highly authoritarian left wing society.

    Also noteable is that there are countries with relatively low levels of public spending and taxation, such as Ireland, Spain, and Switzerland, in the top ten, as well as countries with relatively high levels of public spending.

    It’s useful to compare educational standards, as these are something governments can do something about. It’s hard to see anything useful to be gained by comparing much more subjective factors, such as how often families eat together, or whether people trust their friends. Things like that lie outside the competence of governments.

    Governments can however, pursue policies that incentivise families to stick together, rather than to break up.

  9. THE gap between the haves and have-nots is growing faster in Britain than in the rest of the advanced world.

  10. David
    Just tuned in, their talking about this dog that bites, now there not talking about you are they?
    I’m hearing barking in the back-ground 🙂

    Man bites dog !

  11. Sir Percy,

    Bottom-line? The Children’s Commissioner was unable to provide a definition of how she measures "poverty" – she merely observed there’s a lot of it about. LOL – liberals exposed once again.

    Here’s one for you. Read the report. Check out the claim by UNICEF that our educational well-being is amongst the worst in Europe. Then check out the Government and Educationalists stats that education achievements have NEVER been as good. Who is lying?

    And when you have done that – get back to me on why Government has to "supply" help to parents so they can "help" kids?

    Total liberal bleeding heart crap.

  12. The UK is bottom of the league because we are an increasingly immature society. Too many people live lives that are cheap vulgar and wasteful and they embrace the lowest common denominator. You see ‘adults’ with children all the time who are still behaving like irresponsible teenagers with ever increasing swathes of our native population unfit for purpose in an advanced civil society. I don’t know how much governments can be blamed for this or whether it is just an organic development in our culture but it is so noticeable compared to how you see many people living, even in poorer communities abroad.

  13. >>>Finland 35 (why so sad?)<<<

    i thought suicide rates in nordic and scandinavian nations was to do with seasonal depression. ie extended periods of darkness leading to imbalance and depression.

  14. Totally agree with Peter’s 1.20pm comment 🙂

    Mad, that’s just the typical wishy washy liberal comment only to be expected from you 😉

  15. I forgot to add – national service, especially in areas like Creggan, Falls road and South Armagh – send them to Afghanistan and Iraq where they can repay their Queen and country.

    On a serious note – Stocks for anti-social behaviour – none of this ski-trips for the poor wee darlings, and the birch for violence.

  16. >>>On a serious note – Stocks for anti-social behaviour – none of this ski-trips for the poor wee darlings, and the birch for violence.<<<

    and chop the hands of convicted burgalars. 😉

  17. Well seriously we don’t need stocks and all that , but we do need a much greater willingness to establish standards and rules and stick to them rigidly.

  18. well David, the commisioner ought to have been able to provide the basis on which she was measuring child poverty.
    The inconsistency in the eduational measures as defined by the report and by the gov’t are at odds.
    can’t explain that.

    However the point also must be made that whatever stats the commission was using equally applied accross Europe; and the UK still came bottom.

  19. Actually, the standard used is not the same across Europe, Sir Percy. Child poverty is defined using a proportion of average income (60% IIRC). Hence, one can reach the absurd conclusion that child poverty is less than it is in the UK in much poorer countries, such as Poland, notwithstanding that children in the UK have a much higher absolute standard of living than children in such countries.

    In material terms, child poverty is pretty much a thing of the past in the UK. Of course, material wellbeing is not the be all and end all of life.

  20. Didn’t hear your interview, but if you questioned the crazy claims of the NI poverty industry then well done.

    The well paid poverty industry needs to keep the myth of massive poverty alive to keep the big pay checks coming in that the unnecessary big offices in Great Victoria Street going at tax payers expense.

    Shockingly the people in real need often get ignored under the PR savy clamour of the professional whiners.

    The poverty NI myth began with a academic who asked people if they had everything they wanted and concluded that if they didn’t they were in poverty. ie I want a Maserati, but can’t afford it so I must be in poverty. Something like that anyway, which is why they don’t want to define poverty.

  21. This is incredible – a meaningless x=x statistic and the revelation that not going to the cinema or buy "sports equipment" means children are in poverty.

    From NICCY website

    Why NICCY thinks ‘Children and Poverty’ is a Priority

    Northern Ireland has approximately 400,000 people under 18. Of those, almost 40% of under 18s live in households that are in the bottom 30% of total household income.

    There are many children and young people that live in what is termed poverty. 15% of Northern Ireland’s children are unable to go to the cinema regularly. About 40,000 children – 8% – reported to a recent research project that they or their family cannot buy new clothes regularly, or buy sports equipment.

  22. So, not going to see the latest movie, or buy the latest sports trainers is "poverty".

    Just rubbish. They’re making it up as they go to secure more funding from us taxpayers.

  23. Quite so, David. By that definition, I was poor when I was a child. Oddly enough, I didn’t realise it at the time.

  24. Sean,

    Yes but luckily benevolent socialists want to help us – by taking from us and giving to the Welfare junkies.

    The entire "poverty" scam needs exposed, and the fact that they use a measure which means they can always claim a substantial poverty underclass means permanent jobs for the quango boys and girls. Hurray!

  25. <Q>Well seriously we don’t need stocks and all that </Q>

    I disagree. Let’s quit mollycoddling the brutes.

  26. Poverty isnt the true issue. Like it isnt the issue behind the islamic nutjobs. Useful excuse though it always always is. .

  27. I thought the report was mainly about standards of well being in all areas of childrens lives and not about levels of material poverty.

  28. I think education has a huge amount to do with it. Here in the ROI (amazingly we were in the top 10)teenagers are put under huge stress to perform educationally. Access to University is decided by academic achievement alone – by way of a points system. This has been in operation since free fees came in in 1995. It is known as the rat race.

    Young people are simply too busy studying to get into trouble!

    I think another important factor is family. Ireland is more family orientated than the modern day UK in my experience.
    Smaller instance of divorce etc and more families eating together as a family each evening.

  29. D4 – thats pretty much the case for a few countries in Europe at the top of the league. In fact it was cited – they eat together are more fanily oriented – we could learn a lot. Add to that kids who arent academically trained get skills training in non acadenic areas. That helps.

  30. The welfare state has been so divisive, especially where families are concerned, that coupled with a deteriorating education system, and a positive encouragement of single parent families, it is little wonder that the results do not compare with countries where more traditional family structures are maintained.

    In much the same way that tower blocks are symptomatic of socialism and sink estates, so the advent of comprehensive schools are symptomatic of a declining education system.

    The feral brats of today are largely the product of the first generation of comprehensive educated adults, and due to the expansion and interference of the so-called Social Services, they seem to have litle idea of just what parenting entails.

    The State having taken over every aspect of a child’s welfare it is hardly surprising that the end result is of such a low standard.

    As the old union saying goes; "Anything is good enough for a government job!"

  31. D4,
    Do you know who and what the experts say is one of the main reasons why Ireland is one of the few developed countries in the world to still have functioning families and the social cohesion of which you speak?

    The Irish Constitution and its main creator – De Valera.

  32. Peter,

    Re the top four countries, – have they been quite so all embracing of the multi-cultural theology as the UK?

  33. Alison,

    <"Add to that kids who arent academically trained get skills training in non acadenic areas">

    Many moons ago, in the much derided ‘bad old days’, every trade had an apprenticeship scheme, open for those for whom the ‘academic’ life held little thrill.

    Then the unions, began to bleat that the apprenticeship schemes were no more than a ‘trick’ by employers to get cheap labour. They kept bleating, until finally successive governments more or less legislated against such schemes.

    The next phase was massive youth unemployment, largely comprised of the less academic. The governments answer was to throw money at further education schemes, in the hope of absorbing all those embarassing youth unemployment figures. Of course it didn’t work, the dole, and a bit of ‘cash in hand’, was a better option.

    The result is that we have much of the less well educated unemployed, and reluctant or unable to do the jobs for which there are vacancies.

    It is little wonder that we have a ‘youth’ problem, they have little to look forward to, and little personal achievement,in which to take pride.

    That this report highlights children rather than young adults, only emphasises just how deep the rot has gone, the youths I mention above, are now parents themselves, and are just as segregated from mainstream society as any immigrant.

    They are victims of the eternal class warfare, that the left seem bent on waging forever more…

  34. Peter,

    "In particular there is often no attempt made by parents to keep young children under control, so they grow up to be ill-disciplined louts."

    Any evidence for that claim?

  35. F,O’D,

    Ever been to a supermarket? – you will find all the evidence you need for that claim and/or opinion.

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