The KidsRights Index 2017, an annual global ranking that charts the performance records of 165 countries concerning children’s rights – looking at life, health, education and the child right’s environment - ranks the UK among the worst performing countries at 156th place. This is a significant decline from last year’s position of 11th place.
The Index, which uses data collected by Unicef and the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, has ranked the UK within the bottom 10 countries after it achieved the lowest possible score across all six indicators in the domain of the Child Rights Environment, which covers non-discrimination, the best interests of the child, enabling legislation, and respect for the views of the child.
On average, countries scored higher in the domain of Enabling Legislation, which measures the legal framework provided to protect and promote children’s rights.
The international children’s rights foundation KidsRights, which together with Erasmus University Rotterdam has put together the Index, claims that the UK must take steps to ‘align domestic legislation with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child’.
The other poorly performing countries, according to the index, include – Central African Republic, Afghanistan, Sierra Leone and New Zealand - which has fallen from 45th to 158th place.
At the top of the Index is Portugal for its strong performance in the fields of child legislation, health and education. Also in the top ten are – Norway, Switzerland, Iceland, Spain, France, Sweden, Thailand, Tunisia, and Finland.
Overall, the Index finds that industrialised nations are falling ‘drastically’ short of allocating sufficient budgets towards creating a stable environment for children’s rights.
The KidsRights Index also raises concerns about structural discrimination in the UK. Muslim children face increased discrimination following recent anti-terrorism measures, it says, while discrimination against Roma/gypsy children and refugee children has grown in recent years.
Marc Dullaert, founder and chairman of the KidsRights Foundation, urged the UK to treat non-discrimination as a policy priority.
'Discrimination against vulnerable groups of children and youths is severely hampering opportunities for future generations to reach their full potential,' he said.
'Following the general election, the new Government should demonstrate to the world that it will not allow the retreat from the EU to adversely affect the rights and opportunities of its children.'
Lord Philip Hunt, shadow deputy leader of the House of Lords and shadow health spokesperson, said, 'This report exposes the inactivity of the current UK Government and inadequate service provision in this most important area of policy making; rights of the child.
'The UK is the 6th largest economy globally and therefore has the resources at its disposal to ensure that our children are adequately protected and cared for across multiple disciplines. Our children are our future and the barometer of our approach to social justice and the state of our society.'