Stressed and unhappy children become stressed and unhappy adults. Across the world there is general expert consensus that it is somewhere between economically worthwhile and globally imperative to invest more heavily, as a proportion of both local and national spend, in the very earliest months and years of life.
The OECD compares measures of child well-being in six dimensions: material well-being, housing and environment, education, health and safety, risk behaviours and quality of school life. According to it “no OECD country performs well on all fronts”. (OECD, 2009).
Worldwide 10-20% of children and adolescents experience mental disorders. Half of all mental illnesses begin by the age of 14 and three-quarters by mid-20s. Neuropsychiatric conditions are the leading cause of disability in young people in all regions, (WHO, 2018)
An estimated 43 percent—249 million—of children under five in low-and middle-income countries (LMICs) are at an elevated risk of poor development due to extreme poverty and stunting, (The Lancet Series, Advancing Early Childhood Development: from Science to Scale, 2016)
Worldwide obesity has nearly tripled since 1975. Most of the world’s population now live in countries where overweight and obesity kills more people than underweight. 41 million children under the age of 5 were overweight or obese in 2016. Over 340 million children and adolescents aged 5-19 were overweight or obese in 2016. (WHO, 2018)
Finland was the top ranking country in the 2018 World Happiness Report, with the top ten positions held by the same countries as in the last two years, although with some swapping of places. Four different countries have held top spot in the four most recent reports- Denmark, Switzerland, Norway and now Finland. All the top countries tend to have high values for all six of the key variables that have been found to support well-being: income, healthy life expectancy, social support, freedom, trust and generosity.
By the time the average child is eighteen years old, they will have witnessed 200,000 acts of violence and 16,000 murders
(Facts and Figures About Our TV Habit. TV Turnoff Network).