The Netherlands has dropped from 4th to 20th place in a worldwide ranking of children’s rights, due to its failure to properly protect vulnerable children.
The annual KidsRights Index, produced by the Amsterdam-based KidsRights Foundation with Erasmus University Rotterdam and the International Institute of Social Studies, describes a “complex and gloomy” picture of child rights across the world.
It found one in four children will be living below the poverty line due to a series of crises. It cites the impacts of war and environmental disaster, but also ranks the United Kingdom and New Zealand alongside countries in Africa, the Middle East and Asia as lowest on the index.
Marc Dullaert, founder of KidsRights, told NOS that the situation in the Netherlands was “shameful”. He said: “Children who are in trouble need to wait a long time before they are helped. If children need protection, there is often too little help or none at all. And above all: the city or village you live in makes a difference.”
The report adds to concerns about national youth care in the Netherlands, following the decentralisation of social services in 2015. Many children have historically been taken into care – including victims of the childcare benefits affair, after their parents were wrongly accused by the government of fraud.
KidsRights also has concerns about children growing up in poverty and children in asylum centres who Dullaert said may get too little education, care and protection. “These are three groups that are very vulnerable,” he told NOS. “We are not succeeding in organising enough care and protection for these children who need it so much.”
The survey compares 193 UN member countries that have ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and have enough data available – not including the United States. It looks at the rights to life, health, education, protection and an “enabling environment for child rights”. Sweden is in top place this year, replacing Iceland, while it cites worrying situations in Madagascar and Niger, where under-5 mortality rates have risen, and in Belarus, Colombia and Venezuela, where child labour rates have at least doubled.
If protection for climate change were taken into account, Iceland, Luxembourg and Finland would do best, while New Zealand would jump almost 50 ranks.
Dutch News has contacted the KidsRights Foundation to ask for a comment.
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