Norway is the best in class when it comes to giving children good living conditions for growing up, shows a new report from UNICEF. Although it’s worth noting that mental health and obesity are problem areas.
On Thursday, the report “World of influence: Understanding what shapes child well-being in rich countries” will be launched, where the upbringing conditions for children in 41 EU and OECD countries are measured.
Overall, Norway scores highest on the six factors that are considered crucial for giving children a good quality of life: social welfare schemes, education, health, economy, society, and the environment.
This top position is closely followed by Iceland and Finland. These three countries are best when it comes to welfare schemes such as access to kindergartens, preschool services, and parental leave.
Fall in wellness
When it comes to the experience of a happy childhood, on the other hand, Norway ends up in third place overall, behind the Netherlands and Denmark. On the single factor mental well-being, Norwegian children are all the way down to 11th place but score somewhat better on physical health (8th place) and skills, where Norway ends up at the top.
Among other things, UNICEF has measured the suicide rate among young people aged 15-19. Here, Norway ends up in 16th place with 5.1 suicides per 100,000 young people. In comparison, the figure for Greece is 1.4.
The report also shows that one in 100 children in the world is depressed. Here, Norway ends up in 22nd place with 12.1 percent. Among other things, many girls struggle with a negative body image.
At the same time, around eight out of ten Norwegian children say that they have good family relations and receive support from home. This is considered the most important factor in making children happy with their life.
27 percent children overweight
Also when it comes to obesity among children, Norway ends up quite far down the list in 19th place. More than one in four Norwegian children, 27 percent, are overweight, according to Unicef’s overview.
Japanese children are the least overweight (14 percent), while the United States does not surprisingly top the list with 42 percent.
The figures worry General Secretary Camilla Viken of UNICEF Norway.
“It is very worrying that we who have enough resources to ensure the children a good upbringing, fail to achieve this in important areas. Neither the number of overweight nor mental health problems and suicide is declining in Norway. We still have a big task ahead”, she says.
Little participation at school
65 percent of Norwegian children state that they are mostly allowed to take part in decisive things at home. At school, on the other hand, the degree of participation falls. Here, only 41 percent of the children state that they are allowed to participate and decide, which places Norway in the bottom tier of the 17 countries that have been asked about this.
Viken believes this violates children’s rights and thus Norwegian law.
“Children should be listened to and taken seriously. They are important participants in society”, she says.
In 2018, Norway received a clear message from the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child that children’s right to participate in Norway is not being fulfilled well enough.
“When it comes to school, the student council must consist of the Education Act and not be removed, as it is proposed now”, Viken says.
The report also shows that Norwegian children are at the top among 11 countries when it comes to screen use. In 2018–19, children in Norway spent an average of 3.5 hours a day, in front of a screen.
© NTB Scanpix / #Norway Today