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UK is accused of failing children [GB]

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BBC News
Publication Date: 
14 Feb 2007

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The UK has been accused of failing its children, as it comes bottom of a league table for child well-being across 21 industrialised countries.

Unicef looked at 40 indicators from the years 2000-2003 including poverty, family relationships, and health.

One of the report's authors told the BBC that under-investment and a "dog-eat-dog" society were to blame for Britain's poor performance.

The government says its policies have helped to improve child welfare.

Unicef - the United Nations children's organisation - says Child Poverty in Perspective: An Overview of Child Well-being in Rich Countries is the first study of childhood across the world's industrialised nations. In its league table the Netherlands came top, followed by Sweden, Denmark and Finland.

Professor Jonathan Bradshaw, from York University, one of the report's authors, put the UK's poor ratings down to long term under-investment and a "dog-eat-dog" society.

"In a society which is very unequal, with high levels of poverty, it leads on to what children think about themselves and their lives. That's really what's at the heart of this," he said.

Welfare reform minister Jim Murphy said the Unicef study was important, although it used some data which was now out of date.

"Hopefully it leads to a wider conversation about what more we can do to eradicate poverty," he said.

The Children's Society launched a website to coincide with the report,, which allows children to answer a series of surveys about their lives.

Chief executive Bob Reitemeier said: "We simply cannot ignore these shocking findings.

"Unicef's report is a wake-up call to the fact that, despite being a rich country, the UK is failing children and young people in a number of crucial ways."

- reprinted from the BBC News