Wake Up Call: Well Being of Children

Childhood is seen by many as a period of protection for the development of our youth. It is an important social investment in our future.  Some countries view the well being of their children as a measure of the well being of their society.  For example, in a country as Bhutan, the well being of children is a factor in the country's Gross National Happiness policy.  Bhutan's Prime Minister, Jigme Thinley, says "Happiness is a very serious business."  Basing their views on Buddhist principles, they believe that true development, is not merely economic or material, but spiritual as well.

In 2007, UNICEF released a report on the well-being of children in the nations that had the most well developed economies.  Well-being was measured along six dimensions, material well-being, educational well-being, subjective well-being, healthy and safety, family and peer relationships, and behaviors and risks.

Among industrialized countries, Sweden, Denmark, and the Netherlands took the best care of their young while the United States and the United Kingdom scored the lowest.

This comes hand in had with the statistics on the decline of children's well-being in the United States.  In the last twenty years we have seen a decline that is marked by increased depression, increased rates of crime, and increased amount of violence. Researchers, such as the late professor Urie Bronfrenbrenner  predicted this increase more than 25 years ago.  It was based on his understanding of the breakdown of our community structure.

We can take this as a wake up call.  We need to better investigate the factors are influencing the welfare of our children.  For many, spending time with children and grandchildren, is one of the most fundamental sources of happiness.  It is also our future.

Warm Regards,

Dr. Alice