Child wellbeing - Lagging behind in where it matters most

By Errol Kiong, NZPA

The United Nations Children's Fund has disputed the Government's claims that the grim picture of child wellbeing painted by the fund's latest report would look better if it had used current data.

Unicef's 2007 report card on child wellbeing for OECD nations ranked New Zealand last out of the OECD countries on deaths from accidents, injuries per 100,000 to those under 19, the percentage of 15-19 year olds in full- or part-time education and near the bottom of the list in infant mortality, health and safety, teenage pregnancy, and immunisation. Data was compiled largely from 2001 statistics.

Unicef's New Zealand executive director Dennis McKinlay said even if more recent data was used, "I think that we would still find that, overall, we're performing quite poorly for our children," he told National Radio's Nine to Noon programme. "I don't think there's been sufficient change in attitudes to children, and we still need to be working on these indicators."

Education Minister Steve Maharey said things had changed and once the Working For Families package was fully implemented the country would be ranked in the top four OECD countries on the relative poverty indicator.

Children's Commissioner Dr Cindy Kiro said the information should be viewed in context.

"Much of the data in other countries was collected from the World Health Organisation's survey of Health Behaviour in School Age Children. New Zealand is not part of this survey and this makes comparisons difficult."

Secondary Principals' Association president Graham Young said a high ranking in student achievement at age 15 in reading, maths and scientific literacy could be in jeopardy if more responsibilities were heaped on schools.

Barnardos New Zealand chief executive Murray Edridge urged New Zealanders to face up to the problems, rather than engage in "political point-scoring" or blame the Government.


Old figures or new, things could be better

1 Relative income poverty: Percentage of children (0-17 years) in households with equivalent income less than 50% of the median.

1. Denmark
2. Finland
3. Norway
4. Sweden
5. Belgium
6. Switzerland
7. Czech Republic
8. France
9. Netherlands
10. Germany
11. Australia
12. Greece
13. Hungary
14. Austria
15. Canada
16. Japan
17. Poland
18. New Zealand
19. Portugal
20. Spain
21. Ireland
22. Italy
23. United Kingdom
24. United States

2 Percentage of working-age households with children without an employed parent.

1. Japan
2. Portugal
3. Switzerland
4. Austria
5. United States
6. Greece
7. Sweden
8. Canada
9. Finland
10. Italy
11. Belgium
12. Denmark
13. Spain
14. Norway
15. Netherlands
16. France
17. Ireland
18. New Zealand
19. Czech Republic
20. United Kingdom
21. Germany
22. Poland
23. Australia
24. Hungary

3 Percentage of children age 15 reporting less than six educational possessions.

1. Norway
2. Australia
3. Austria
4. Germany
5. Sweden
6. Netherlands
7. United Kingdom
8. Finland
9. Belgium
10. Canada
11. New Zealand
12. Switzerland
13. United States
14. Spain
15. France
16. Italy
17. Denmark
18. Czech Republic
19. Ireland
20. Portugal
21. Poland
22. Hungary
23. Japan
24. Greece

4 Percentage of children age 15 reporting less than 10 books in the home.

1. Czech Republic
2. Hungary
3. Spain
4. Sweden
5. Norway
6. Australia
7. Finland
8. New Zealand
9. Canada
10. Germany
11. Greece
12. Denmark
13. Poland
14. Italy
15. France
16. Austria
17. United Kingdom
18. Japan
19. Ireland
20. Switzerland
21. Belgium
22. United States
23. Netherlands
24. Portugal

5 Infant mortality rate (deaths before the age of 12 months per 1000 live births).

1. Iceland
2. Japan
3. Finland
4. Sweden
5. Norway
6. Czech Republic
7. France
8. Portugal
9. Spain
10. Germany
11. Belgium
12. Italy
13. Switzerland
14. Denmark
15. Austria
16. Australia
17. Greece
18. Netherlands
19. Ireland
20. United Kingdom
21. Canada
22. New Zealand
23. Poland
24. United States
25. Hungary

6 Low birth weight rate (% births less than 2.5kg).

1. Iceland
2. Finland
3. Sweden
4. Ireland
5. Norway
6. Netherlands
7. Denmark
8. Canada
9. Poland
10. New Zealand
11. Australia
12. Belgium
13. Italy
14. Switzerland
15. Czech Republic
16. France
17. Germany
18. Spain
19. Austria
20. Portugal
21. United Kingdom
22. United States
23. Greece
24. Hungary
25. Japan

7 Percentage of children age 12-23 months immunised against the major vaccine-preventable diseases

1. Hungary
2. Czech Republic
3. Poland
4. Denmark
5. Netherlands
6. Sweden
7. Finland
8. Portugal
9. Spain
10. France
11. Australia
12. Iceland
13. United States
14. Japan
15. Germany
16. Canada
17. Italy
18. Switzerland
19. Norway
20. Greece
21. United Kingdom
22. Belgium
23. New Zealand
24. Ireland
25. Austria

8 Deaths from accidents and injuries per 100,000 under 19 years (average of latest three years available).

1. Sweden
2. United Kingdom
3. Netherlands
4. Italy
5. Iceland
6. Spain
7. Switzerland
8. France
9. Japan
10. Norway
11. Germany
12. Greece
13. Canada
14. Finland
15. Ireland
16. Austria
17. Australia
18. Belgium
19. Hungary
20. Poland
21. Czech Republic
22. Portugal
23. United States
24. New Zealand

9 Educational achievement of 15 year olds, and overview of reading, mathematical and scientific literacy.

1. Finland
2. Canada
3. Australia
4. Japan
5. Netherlands
6. New Zealand
7. Belgium
8. Switzerland
9. United Kingdom
10. Sweden
11. Ireland
12. Czech Republic
13. France
14. Iceland
15. Germany
16. Poland
17. Austria
18. Norway
19. Denmark
20. Hungary
21. United States
22. Spain
23. Italy
24. Portugal
25. Greece

10 Percentage of 15-19 year olds in fulltime or part time education.

1. Belgium
2. Czech Republic
3. Germany
4. Poland
5. France
6. Sweden
7. Finland
8. Norway
9. Netherlands
10. Denmark
11. Ireland
12. Hungary
13. Switzerland
14. Iceland
15. Greece
16. Australia
17. Spain
18. Italy
19. Austria
20. United Kingdom
21. United States
22. Portugal
23. New Zealand

11 Percentage of pupils age 15 expecting to find work requiring low skills.

1. United States
2. Poland
3. Greece
4. Portugal
5. Belgium
6. Denmark
7. Canada
8. Ireland
9. New Zealand
10. Australia
11. Italy
12. Spain
13. Finland
14. Sweden
15. Norway
16. Hungary
17. Iceland
18. Austria
19. Netherlands
20. Germany
21. United Kingdom
22. Czech Republic
23. Switzerland
24. France
25. Japan

12 Percentage of 15 year olds who eat the main meal of the day with their parents 'several times per week'

1. Italy
2. Iceland
3. France
4. Netherlands
5. Switzerland
6. Belgium
7. Norway
8. Portugal
9. Japan
10. Denmark
11. Sweden
12. Spain
13. Germany
14. Poland
15. Ireland
16. Hungary
17. Czech Republic
18. Canada
19. Australia
20. Greece
21. Austria
22. United Kingdom
23. United States
24. New Zealand
25. Finland

13 Percentage of 15 year olds whose parents spend time "just talking to them" several times a week.

1. Hungary
2. Italy
3. Finland
4. Czech Republic
5. Denmark
6. Netherlands
7. Portugal
8. United States
9. Norway
10. France
11. Ireland
12. United Kingdom
13. Japan
14. Spain
15. Greece
16. Belgium
17. New Zealand
18. Sweden
19. Australia
20. Poland
21. Switzerland
22. Austria
23. Canada
24. Iceland
25. Germany

14 Teenage fertility rate: births per 1000 women age 15-19.

1. Japan
2. Netherlands
3. Switzerland
4. Denmark
5. Italy
6. Spain
7. Sweden
8. Finland
9. France
10. Norway
11. Belgium
12. Germany
13. Ireland
14. Poland
15. Greece
16. Australia
17. Canada
18. Austria
19. Czech Republic
20. Portugal
21. Hungary
22. United Kingdom
23. New Zealand
24. United States

15 Percentage of 15 year olds agreeing with specific negative statements about personal well-being (I feel like an outsider or left out of things, I feel awkward and out of place, I feel lonely).

1. Netherlands
2. Spain
3. Ireland
4. Portugal
5. United Kingdom
6. Italy
7. Germany
8. Denmark
9. Finland
10. Belgium
11. France
12. Greece
13. Australia
14= New Zealand
14= Switzerland
15. Sweden
16. Norway
17. Czech Republic
18. Austria
19. Hungary
20. Canada
21. Poland
22. Iceland
23. Japan

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