Unicef says New Zealand is failing children after a new report revealed the country’s poor childhood obesity and suicide statistics have pushed it to near the very bottom on child wellbeing.
The latest Unicef Innocenti report card shows that, out of 41 developed countries in the OECD and European Union, New Zealand ranks 35th.
The country’s youth suicide rates are the second highest in the developed world, with 14.9 deaths per 100,000 adolescents, according to the UN Children’s Fund rankings.
Only 64% of 15-year-olds have basic reading and maths skills.
New Zealand also has the second-highest obesity rate in the OECD with than one in three children being obese or overweight.
Unicef NZ executive director Vivien Maidaborn said “The report card gives New Zealand an F for failure when it comes to wellbeing outcomes for children. This is a woeful result for a country that prides itself on the great outdoors, academic achievement, and the international success of our sports teams. It is time to be alarmed and activated about the inequality of opportunity, health and wellbeing in New Zealand.”
In December last year, New Zealand’s children’s commissioner said the Ardern government had failed to reduce child poverty. Andrew Becroft’s report found 148,000 children lived in homes experiencing material hardship in six or more areas, including lack of access to basics such as warm clothing, health care and food. The figures were unchanged since the first report into child poverty in 2012.