UNICEF's Report Card 14: child well-being in wealthier nations

The latest UNICEF Report Card Building the Future is the first report to assess the status of children in rich countries in relation to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It ranks countries based on their performance and details the ...

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The latest UNICEF Report Card Building the Future is the first report to assess the status of children in rich countries in relation to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It ranks countries based on their performance and details the challenges and opportunities that rich countries face in achieving interdependent global commitments for children, shared economic prosperity and a sustainable environment.

In our Irish infographic guide to UNICEF Report Card 14, we show that Ireland does comparatively well in some aspects of child and youth well-being and lags behind in others, ranking 11th out of 41 countries.  

One of the most alarming findings in the report is the high rate of teen suicide. Ireland is ranked fourth highest in the EU/OECD region. For girls the finding is even more stark as Ireland has the highest rate of girls dying by suicide in Europe.  Recent cuts in youth mental health facilities are a cause for serious concern.  

The report also shows a worrying rise in self-reported adolescent mental health issues, indicating that teenagers themselves have concerns about their mental health; 22.6 per cent of children aged 11-15 report experiencing two or more psychological symptoms more than once a week.

Other significant findings for Ireland:

  • 18.3 per cent of children are living in relative income poverty RANK: 17th
  • 23 per cent of children are living in multidimensional poverty RANK: 10th
  • 17.9 per cent of children under 15 live with an adult who is food insecure RANK: 33rd
  • 9.1 per cent of 15-19-year-olds are not in education, employment or training. RANK: 30th
  • 18.8 per cent of children under 18 live in jobless households RANK: 37th
  • Teen birth rate drops to 10.09 births per 1,000 girls age 15-19 (17.36 in 2005) RANK: 25th
  • 4.8 percent of teens reporting being drunk in the past month down to from previous years RANK: 8th  

Based on the findings in Report Card, UNICEF calls for high income countries to take action in five key areas:

  • Put children at the heart of equitable and sustainable progress – Improving the well-being of all children today is essential for achieving both equity and sustainability.
  • Leave no child behind – National averages often conceal extreme inequalities and the severe disadvantage of groups at the bottom of the scale.
  • Improve the collection of comparable data – In particular on violence against children, early childhood development, migration and gender.
  • Use the rankings to help tailor policy responses to national contexts – No country does well on all indicators of well-being for children and all countries face challenges in achieving at least some of the child-focused SDG targets.
  • Honour the commitment to global sustainable development – The overarching SDG framework engages all countries in a global endeavour.