It’s not surprising to read that one in four children in Canada are overweight or obese, and only one in three school-age children meet minimum physical activity guidelines.
But other published findings about the health and well being of our children in Canada might be surprising.
Children First Canada and the O’Brien Institute for Public Health have just published a new report examining the mental and physical health of the 7.9 million young people under the age of 19. “Many Canadians think this is one of the best countries in the world to raise a child, but the statistics prove otherwise,” says Sara Austin, founder and lead director of Children First Canada.
She notes that Canada ranks a middling 25th out of 41 countries in UNICEF ranking of well-being of children and youth.
Our infant mortality rate, 4.5 per 1,000 live births, is one of the worst in the developed world. Iceland, by comparison, has 0.7 deaths per 1,000 live births.
Unintentional injuries – almost all of them preventable – are the No. 1 killer of children and youth, with motor vehicles posing the greatest risk, followed by falls and drowning.
Number two is suicide. In 2016, 35 children under the age of 14 took their own lives, as did another 203 aged 15-19.
According to the new report, one in three adults have suffered from physical or sexual abuse before the age of 16. Two-thirds of them never told anyone.
Abuse remains a risk for children and youth today, as we are reminded by the all-too-common stories of abuse by clergy, sports coaches, teachers and family members.
Much needs to be done. We need to do better. Much better. We need to take better care of our children and raise them to be strong, confident, productive adults.
More at the Globe and Mail