Stuck in the Middle
UNICEF Report Card 11
Child Wellbeing in Rich Countries: A Comparative Reivew
The majority of Canada’s children are faring well in any given indicator. Even where we are further behind other countries, in some cases it is not a great distance. Most children are immunized, most do not smoke and most have healthy weights. But in contrast to comparable countries, we have too many children who are left out of public health efforts and who are not benefitting from their years of compulsory education by going on to further education, training and employment. We are raising children in families squeezed for time as well as income. Children living in poverty are more likely to be left out because poverty, in and of itself, is a significant risk factor. But there are many conditions affecting childhood in Canada that cut across all socioeconomic levels, particularly risk behaviours. And because most children are in the middle of the socioeconomic gradient, that is where we find the greatest number who are developmentally vulnerable. If we want to improve the chances for all children, we need to boost interventions that reach all children.
2 thoughts on “UNICEF Report Card 11 – Stuck in the Middle”
The Society Report Card uses four indicators similar to those found in the UNICEF Report Card. Like the UNICEF Report Card, it gives Canada a low grade for child poverty, and reports that the relative child poverty rate has increased from 12.8 per cent to 15.1 per cent since the mid-1990s, which it describes as “particularly disheartening”.
The Society Report Card gives Canada a middle grade for the rate of jobless youth. It is worthy of further debate that the “life satisfaction” reported by Canadians as a whole (of all ages) in the Society Report Card achieves a top grade, in contrast to the low level reported by children in UNICEF’s Report Card.
Both Report Cards report Canada’s relatively high homicide rate in contrast to most other industrialized nations. The Society uses an indicator for “intergenerational income mobility” that gives Canada a high ranking (children born to poor parents in Canada are not as likely to stay poor as adults as they would be in some other countries including United States and England), but cautions that increasing income inequality may dampen this mobility.
The Conference Board of Canada says that “Canada’s middle-of-the-pack ranking means it is not living up to its reputation or potential”
Most concerning is that in Health and Safety, Canada ranks as low as 27 of the 29 industrialized countries.