The World’s Top 10 Kid-Friendly Nations

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Jamie Kingham

The U.S. doesn’t even make the list, and it’s not because of a lack of lollipops.

According to the newest report from Save the Children, a nongovernmental organization devoted to promoting children’s welfare, Japan is the best place to be a kid. Spain follows in second place, while Germany comes in third. Italy and France round out the top 5, while Canada places respectably at sixth place. Guess those Nordic countries can’t keep winning all the awards, eh?

Save the Children releases a study they call the Child Development Index every few years. The index tallies the best countries for children based on three factors that impact a large part of kids’ growth: health, education and nutrition. The nongovernmental organization ranks countries based on the chances of a child dying before his or her fifth birthday, of not enrolling in school and of being underweight — the lower the chance of one of those measures occurring, the lower the nation’s composite index score is. The most child-friendly nations notch the lowest scores.

Japan’s score of 0.35 proves its advanced state of childhood education and medicine. On the opposite end of the spectrum, Somalia is the worst place to be a child, with a score of 54.50.

In case you’re wondering where the best places to be a kid are, here are the top 10 countries:

  1. Japan
  2. Spain
  3. Germany
  4. Italy
  5. France
  6. Canada
  7. Switzerland
  8. Norway
  9. U.K.
  10. Netherlands
27 comments
MarilitaFabie-Fujisawa
MarilitaFabie-Fujisawa

To add, not to forget to mention my fist years in this country. I was bullied by kids first above all!! They were so ignorant in seeing a foreigner and would copy the way I talked and my accent as well..

MarilitaFabie-Fujisawa
MarilitaFabie-Fujisawa

30 something years in Japan, brought up two boys in Japan..I dare to disagree with this survey...there must be a big mistake.

duleepx
duleepx like.author.displayName 1 Like

I love preteen girls more than the god. This special love made me search on "Why do adult men sexually attract towards preteen girls in a planet where, there is a hell of young women?" and i found the reason.When i develope and publish my attempt as a research paper for a journal, i think Japan and Netherland will be nowhere near this list.

Brooklyn5511
Brooklyn5511

I live in New York but I don't want to raise my kids here... I should move to Japan with my kids. Their food, education, the environment are better than here..

Casey Walker
Casey Walker like.author.displayName 1 Like

This is a JOKE. How is Japan the best place to be a child -- when 1/5 of the population live in a giant city without sufficient parks or free space to play (most parks have no shouting and no running and no "games with balls" rules because of noise disturbance)? Not to mention that the educational system makes life extremely stressful for children after elementary school is over. Health, and education may be premiere, but at a comparatively high cost.

boballende
boballende

If adults are killing themselves, it is not a "Kid-Friendly Nation."

-

According to government figures, 30,707 people committed suicide in Japan in 2009, about 24 per 100, 000 people. The rate in United States, as of 2007, was 11 for every 100,000. Suicide rates are highest for both men and women in Japan between the ages of 45 and 64. ~ Japan's High Suicide Rates Linked to Unemployment by Talea Miller, PBS. August 30, 2011

Derek Kwok
Derek Kwok

Given the goal is survival to age 5, sure Japan is great but I wouldn't want to put my kid through the education system long-term. Elementary school teaches them the habits of hard work but in jr/sr high, they just become walking dictionaries. Critical thinking is not on the menu.

And... although Japan boasts a high level of university completion, the degree is literally not worth the paper it's written on. Unless they are in med school, the sciences, maybe econ or commerce, the rest of the student body spends 4 years socializing. They come out not knowing much about their major, which is what Japanese companies want - easier to train instead of re-train.

You can have people finish graduate degrees in bi, chem, physics, etc... only to come out working for an investment bank or something completely unrelated to their field of study.

The level of your school pretty much determines the level of company you will enter, though this is slowly changing as the bad economy is forcing companies to look for real skills/knowledge. This assignment begins in preschool/elementary school. A rank preschool > A rank elem > A rank high > A rank Uni > A rank company.

Plus, there isn't much in the way of green space. Every time I visit back home, I'm amazed at even how the edge of the sidewalk has grass. Good luck finding that in Tokyo.

Jason Wang
Jason Wang

Makes sense, as we keep defunding the programs that benefit children and young people while protecting the elderly and rich...  

ucing barau
ucing barau

germany loves kids? Try taking your kids to public places and look at the people surround you and your kids. They probably do the cynical glance, are being grumpy and nervous, and in the end the elderly people tell you and your kids not to make noise although you're not making any noise.

S J Samuel
S J Samuel

The NGO ranks countries based on the chances of a child dying before his or her fifth birthday, of not enrolling in school and of being underweight: Fair enough by this criteria that Japan and a few other countries rank high.How about trying to rank countries by (1) maximum number of people (family, relatives, etc.) to care for children, (2) many number of people for children to interact with in their growing-up years, (3) less school-based education, (4) less pressure to perform, (5) less exposed to violence and inter-personal strife, (6) a less industrialized society whose pace of life is not insane, and other such criteria? A few parts of Asia (Bhutan, Mongolia?), certain regions in Africa, South America, Russia, and a few other parts of the world might make the list. The exercise would be difficult, but interesting.

vstillwell
vstillwell

Where's that American exceptionalism I keep hearing about? Is this the Mexican's fault again? 

Nwvotes
Nwvotes

Save the Children ranked the top 10 kid friendly nations. Why do you think the U.S. didn't even make top ten? Vote at Nationwidevotes.com

TruNYC
TruNYC

Where did the US rank.  I know I missed my childhood.  Growing up poor in the inner-city was a nightmare.  I thank the US Army for saving me from that mental ghetto prison..

anla
anla

23rd.  (ps: the link in the 1st sentence takes you to the full report.)

bellaluna30
bellaluna30

Shameful.  Positively shameful.  Let's send this to our elected officials.

Karen L. Richardson
Karen L. Richardson

The suicide rate is unacceptably high, but if you evaluate all safety/health related statistics together Japan is head and heels better than the US...ProjectMillionaire2012.blogspot.com

tiredofusernames
tiredofusernames

Interesting that Japan's suicide rate is one of the highest in the world, but it's the best place to be a kid.

Tom Collier
Tom Collier

Perhaps suicide is more common due to historical cultural attitudes rather than depression. It is an ancient tradition to restore honour to yourself and your family by committing suicide. It would be interesting to know what % of suicide victims were parents...

Rikard Bladh
Rikard Bladh

 Suicide are a hidden couse of death in many cultures and political systems. You can add sexual abuse of children as well to this.

TimBlough
TimBlough

I'm a Canadian, living in Japan for the last 10 years, married to a Japanese woman and we have a boy and a girl (ages 4 and 2).

As much as I love Japan and appreciate its people, culture and society, there's no way I want my kids to grow up in the Japanese education system. Too much emphasis on conformity, too much teacher-centered education and too much rote learning. And I hate the idea of "you don't want to be seen making a mistake" inculcated in Japanese people.

That's not to say that western education systems have nothing to learn from Japan or other countries.

UDDanB
UDDanB

Japan is the safest country on the planet.  I see six year olds riding the Tokyo subway to school by themselves.  The suicide rate is unacceptably high, but if you evaluate all safety/health related statistics together Japan is head and heels better than the US.

TruNYC
TruNYC

Suicide is embedded in their culture.  Failure is worse than death in many families.

gngottawa
gngottawa

Fact is, if you're a minority or immigrant kid, like I was in Canada, there are really only 3 countries in the world I can think of where you'd want to grow up--Canada, US and Australia.  Only in these 3 countries (and I'm not discounting the possibility of a few others), are the factors used in this study meaningful for such kids. 

Lee_am
Lee_am

 i was an immigrant kid and grew up just fine in various countries.  and my kids (now 6 and 9) are immigrant kids growing up fantastically in the netherlands.  i would much rather bring up my kids in germany, england, the netherlands or even italy or france, than i would in the usa. 

oward bodie
oward bodie

Why?

Lee_am
Lee_am

i often find american children show an attitude of superiority and entitlement.  obviously not all of them, but a majority of the ones that i have met seem to think they are better than other people purely because they are american.  additionally, i truly dislike the idea of pledging allegiance to a flag - i'd rather they learn to think for themselves and decide what is right and wrong for themselves rather than automatically pledging allegiance to something that may or may not be making the right decisions.

i also consider america in general (and yes, these are generalisations -but generalisations and stereotypes do come from somewhere ...) to be rather unaccepting of things - so racism, sexism, ageisn, religionism, anti gay/lesbian etc are huge there.  and finally, in the context of education and health - i feel my children can get better healthcare and education in europe than in the usa.

to be fair - this is based on exposure to americans outside of the us as i have not been to the usa - however i will be heading over there in couple of months time and will see how i feel about it after i've experienced it for myself - i know that the brits and the germans are often misrepresenting their countrys when they are outside of their home countrys, so perhaps the expat and tourist americans that i have been exposed to are different to the average american.  if so, i will admit i've been mistaken.  i am currently looking for a new country to move to, and maybe after experiencing the usa, i will consider it for our next move, however it does not currently make the short-list.