Report says U.S. ranks low for child well-being

Child wellness ranking

TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - The United States is ranking low for child well-being in a new UNICEF report that includes more than 40 of the world’s advanced countries.

The report looks at a child’s mental well-being, physical health and skills pre-pandemic. The Netherlands, Denmark and Norway ranked the highest, while the United States was fourth from the bottom.

“Pre-COVID-19, I think families were already suffering with stresses economically and educationally, however it has all come to a head. It’s like the perfect storm now," said John Leipsic, a child and adolescent psychiatrist.

The pandemic has put new stresses on children and families.

“It has also shaken so many families to the core with unemployment increasing and working from home," he said. "We’re seeing a big divide.”

Many students are learning from home, not seeing their classmates or teachers in person.

“It has taken away the supports kids have through their friends and through institutions that they count on such as school, religious institutions," Leipsic said.

Parents are assessing whether they’ll send their kids back to school.

“It’s just really hard to make the right choice because just like with being a parent," said Jessica, a local mother. "You never know if your decision is going to be the best one for your child.”

Jessica said daily life has changed for many families, including her own, but it has also made parents more aware of their child’s frame of mind.

“It’s somewhat hard for parents to see the way their kids are responding with school because now they’re witnessing it," she said. "They weren’t at the school seeing how their student was able to handle not being perfect or handle an assignment.”

The UNICEF report has a list of recommendations for countries to boost their children’s well-being, including improving mental health services for children and expanding family-friendly policies in the workplace.

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