Bringing Up the Rear

In a study of the richest nations of the world, UNICEF deemed the United States the second worst place to be a child, second only to the United Kingdom.

The study ranked wealthy nations in six broad categories such as family and peer relationships, and children’s own sense of well being. The U.S. was in the bottom third of five of the six categories, including a last place ranking in “health and safety” because of a high percentage of accidental deaths and child mortality.

Universities such as Harvard, Yale and Princeton were only enough to propel the U.S. to twelfth out of the 22 nations. The socioeconomic inequity of education in the U.S. is that disgraceful.

In brief, the report made the strong suggestion that after a certain point, there is no correlation between GDP or wealth of a nation and the wellbeing of that nation’s children.

I would not be surprised if you didn’t know about this. The UNICEF report was released Feb. 12. So it seems likely that U.S. newspapers would have articles on it for the next day, especially considering the surprising results.

However, when released on Feb. 13, the top stories on the front page of The New York Times were about the following: the U.S.’ involvement in Iraq one year after the Sunni insurgency, North Korea disabling its nuclear facilities, the S.E.C. investigating fraud lawsuits, the lack of accessibility of health insurance and U.S. skepticism about Iran’s involvement in the situation in Iraq.

Not only was the report not mentioned in the first page, a search of The Times’ da-tabase shows that it wasn’t mentioned in the paper at all. In fact, an online search reveals that only The Los Angeles Times published an article of any significance on the study, and even that article was not printed until two days later.

Across the Atlantic, the study dominated headlines in the U.K., with no less than eight newspapers making it front page news. It stirred controversy for several days afterward and even prompted a reaction from Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Meanwhile, it seems President Bush and his administration are not even aware of UNICEF, or if they are, they’re grateful that nobody in the media cares enough to make it news and therefore instigate some sort of action.

The U.S. once dominated the international landscape. We were one of the wealthiest, smartest, safest, happiest nations on the planet.

While it is reasonable to expect that the happy go lucky 1950s wouldn’t last forever and the economic boom of the Clinton administration would eventually decline, there is no reason that our nation’s children should be in the state they are now, even given the international turmoil we find ourselves in.

The current millennial generation of youngsters is shaping up to be the unhappiest and loneliest children in the history of the U.S. and no one cares.