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A survey of 1,700 children from the United Kingdom, ages 9 to 17, indicates that a life of playing safely outside and enjoying school has been replaced with cultures of fear and crime. The report was recently presented by the four children’s commissioners for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, first to UK ministers, and then to the United Nations.
According to The Independent, the report warns that the UK falls “well short” of meeting the minimum standards set out in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, agreed in 1989 by every country in the world except the U.S. and Somalia.
Additionally, a 2007 UNICEF report ranked the UK at the bottom of “rich countries” in regard to the well-being of their children. In the report, the UK ranked the least of 21 nations by the UN for providing happiness, relationships and health and safety for older children. Instead, it said they suffer greater deprivation, worse relationships with their parents and are exposed to more risks from alcohol, drugs and unsafe sex than those in any other wealthy country in the world.
Some of the main points from the recent UN survey include:
1 in 10 children “never enjoys school”
12% said they had carried a knife or gun in the past 12 months
1 in 10 children has a clinically recognizable mental health disorder
50% said they found condoms in their local park and/or playground
In London alone, 41 babies would be saved each year were it not for poverty and inequality
Some 78.2% believe the media paints an unfair picture of young children
An article in The Guardian also indicated the following:
The commissioners suggested that children should have the same legal protection against assault as adults—this in contrast to the current law that allows parents to carry out “reasonable chastisement” (i.e., “spanking” in North America, or “smacking” in the UK)
3.8 million children (1 in 3) live in relative poverty in the UK
Half of all families with disabled children are living at or below the poverty line
The report also indicated that government attempts to rectify the problems were obviously failing. Between 1989-99 and 2005-06, it had taken measures to remove 600,000 children from poverty. Since then, however, the number has increased to 800,000.