The number of New Zealand children that die before age five has led to our country ranking 28th in a report released today by Save the Children International.

In its second year, End of Childhood Report examines how three key factors – conflict, poverty or discrimination against girls – are robbing children of their childhoods around the world.

The report ranks 175 countries where childhood is most and least threatened due to poor health, malnutrition, exclusion from education, child labour, child marriage, early pregnancy and extreme violence.
New Zealand comes in behind Australia (17), the United Kingdom (22), Poland (25) and Greece (27). First place is shared by Singapore and Slovenia.

“While 28th might not sound that bad, New Zealand’s child mortality statistics are appalling. The report says that children from the poorest households are, on average twice as likely to die before the age of five as children from the richest households. In New Zealand children living in the most deprived areas are three times more likely to die than those living in the least deprived areas,” said Save the Children NZ CEO Heidi Coetzee.

This statistic from Child and Youth Mortality Review (CYMR) report, published in April this year, also found that Maori and Pacific children and young people are more likely to die compared to children from other ethnic backgrounds. The report stated that poverty is a key driver in child
deaths in New Zealand.

New Zealand has the highest teen suicide rate in the OECD. Every year about 10 children are killed by a member of their own family and dozens more end up in hospital with serious injuries. Last year, police attended about 105,000 domestic violence incidents. Children are present at about 80 per cent of all violent incidents in the home. Between July 2016 and July 2017, 13 children aged between 10 and 14 took their own lives.

“This year marks 25 years since Aotearoa New Zealand ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, according social, cultural, political, economic and participatory rights to all children in New Zealand. Our Government has an obligation to ensure the survival and development of every child and that children are protected from all forms of abuse.

“While it’s good that the Government has promised a funding boost of $76.2 million over four years for family violence services, more needs to be done to prevent family violence happening in the first place with the aim of reducing the number of children harmed each year. All children have the right to have a safe, happy and fulfilled childhood.”