U.S. Is a Sorry 36th Among Nations in Quality-of-Childhood Ranking
By April M. Short / AlterNet
Norway is the best place in the world to be a kid and Niger is the worst, according to a new report by the international children’s rights organization Save the Children.
For 700 million or more kids around the world, childhood ends too soon. This is the premise that prompted a new report called the End of Childhood Index, which ranks 172 countries based on whether or not childhood has ended early for the children living there. Inadvertently, the report maps out the best and worst places to be a kid in today’s world.
Save the Children created the 44-page report using eight primary indicators:
- Malnutrition that stunts growth
- Under-5 mortality
- Out-of-school children
- Child labor
- Early marriage
- Adolescent births
- Displacement by conflict
- Child homicide
The report dissects each of these erosions of childhood and how they each specifically impact the health and wellbeing of children. It details the ways in which millions of childhood deaths could be prevented; notes that one in 80 children is displaced due to conflict in today’s world; and describes how adolescent marriages, pregnancies and births have devastating consequences on girls’ physical and mental health.
The report’s intro reminds readers it’s “no accident” that certain children in a given nation or region eat, thrive and live into adulthood while others starve, suffer and die.
“Lost childhoods are a result of choices that exclude particular groups of children by design or neglect. Millions of children have their childhoods cut short because of who they are and where they live. There have been major gains for children in the last 25 years, but recent progress in fighting extreme poverty has often not reached those children who need it most—because of geography, gender, ethnicity, disability or because they are victims of conflict.”
The report provides the following breakdown of the ways in which hundreds of millions of children lose out on childhood globally.
You may think the U.S. ranks in the top five on the list; but think again. We’re not even in the top 20. The United States come in at 36, right below Bosnia and Herzegovina, and just barely squeezing into second-to-last place in the category for countries with, “Few children missing out on childhood.”
The U.S. is a world leader in childhood poverty, as AlterNet has reported. At least 13 million U.S. kids live in food-insecure households, meaning they do not have access to nutritious foods on a regular basis, according to the latest statistics. While the U.S. has relatively strict child labor laws, the amount of oversight of labor in general has declined in recent decades, and as the Atlantic reported in a 2014 article, the U.S. may have many more child workers than presumed.
Here is a list of the top and bottom 10 countries according to the End of Childhood Index:
Read the full report and view the full End of Childhood Index at SavetheChildren.org.