According to a recent UNICEF report, Dutch kids come out top in a league table of well-being outcomes across 41 of the world’s richest countries. Though, there is always room for improvement.

NL is the best place to grow upUNICEF’s Innocenti Report Card 16 – ‘Worlds of Influence: Understanding What Shapes Child Well-Bring in Rich Countries’ – was published last month, to monitor and compare the performance of economically advanced countries in securing the rights of their children. The aim of these types of report is to trigger important policy changes, with children as a focus. In a panel discussion that coincided with the launch of the report (see below), Mr. Fayaz King (UNICEF’s Deputy Executive Director for Field Results and Innovation) commented: “These policies should be based on what we can learn from children themselves, including by consulting and listening to them.” The main outcome appears to be that the world’s richest countries are failing children and, of the 41 countries covered by the report, “no one country is a leader on all fronts, and that all 41 countries have significant room for improvement.”

Policies should be based on what we can learn from children themselves

happy kid

Happy times for kids in The Netherlands

The report looks at three areas – mental well-being, skills development and physical health – and overall, out of all the countries polled, the Netherlands comes out on top (view league table here). Dutch children rank first in the category of mental well-being, with 90% of children having high life satisfaction, and in the other two areas the country ranks third and ninth, respectively.

Yes, the outcome is positive, though the Dutch nation shouldn’t rest on its laurels, and as Suzanne Laszlo, director of UNICEF Netherlands, notes: “That’s great, but let’s not forget the children who are not doing well in the Netherlands.” Plus, there is additional pressure for children to do well in school, as outlined in another recent reportGeluk Onder Druk?’ from UNICEF Netherlands [available in English here (PDF)]. Suzanne Laszlo comments: “As the school pressure increases, young people experience more emotional problems and less life satisfaction.”

UNICEF report

Helping children have the best childhood

We finish on Mr. Fayaz King’s call to “put children first and ensure the well-being of children remains top priority. It is time for nations – resource rich and poor – to value their wealth and help children make the most of the one childhood they have.”

It is time for nations to help children make the most of the one childhood they have

Watch the recording of the panel discussion that coincided with the ‘Worlds of Influence’ report:

(Sources: UNICEF Innocenti & UNICEF Netherlands

Carmel McNamara
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