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I was not surprised when I read the headline that read UNICEF Report On Child Well-being Shows U.S. Near Bottom Of List.” I looked up the full report (click here and see for yourself) and the rankings were based upon five dimensions of child well-being: (1) material well-being (poverty), (2) health and safety, (3) education, (4) behaviors and risks, and (5) housing and environment. Among the 29 countries included in the report (because of lack of data the following countries could not be included: Australia, Bulgaria, Chile, Cyprus, Israel, Japan, Malta, Mexico, New Zealand, the Republic of Korea, and Turkey), Netherlands was ranked first, followed by mostly European countries, plus Canada. The United States was ranked 26th overall, just above Lithuania, Latvia and Romania. As far as child poverty is concerned, the U.S. ranks number 26.

In education the U.S. is ranked 27th, just above Greece and Romania. Under the category behaviors and risks” we are number 23.

The category health and safety” includes things like infant mortality rates and the rate of low birth-weight (the U.S. ranks 4th from the bottom in both categories). The category behaviors and risks” includes being overweight (the % of children aged 11, 13 and 15 who are overweight) and here the U.S. is dead last at just 30%; fertility rate is also included and here the U.S. is last; as for the rate of smoking (% of children aged 11, 13 and 15 who smoke cigarettes at least once a week) the U.S. is among the best (in a virtual ties for 3rd with Canada); fighting and bullying is very low within the U.S.

The child homicide rate for the U.S. is third from the last (ranked just above Estonia and Lithuania at 5 per 100,000).

Under the category of education” the U.S. ranks third from the last in the proportion of children enrolled in pre-school programs; we rank 5th from the bottom in the % of children aged 15 to 19 not in education, employment or training (in other words they have dropped out of school and are neither employed or in some kind of vocational training).

One item the U.S. is noted as the best is alcohol abuse (% of children aged 11, 13 and 15 who report having been drunk at least twice) with just above 5% and a rank of 4th for smoking (about 10% of children aged 11, 13 and 15 who smoke cigarettes at least once a week).

Incidentally, the report I cited at the beginning of this blog (from the International Business Times) noted that: The United States is No. 1 on many other lists: It spends more on the military than the next 12 nations on the list combined; it’s the best in the world at imprisoning people; and it has the most obese people, the highest divorce rate, and the highest rate of both illicit and prescription drug use.”