Ásmundur Einar Daðason, the Icelandic Minister of Education and Children, took the initiative to bring the ministers together to discuss the challenges facing Nordic children and young people. Topics covered included wellbeing, the right to be involved, and how to make digital life a positive and safe part of everyday life.
“We must make the Nordic Region the best place in the world for children and young people. The best way to do this is to work together across borders and learn from each other’s successes,” he says.
Children and young people’s wellbeing and mental health
The meeting acknowledged a negative trend in young people’s mental health and wellbeing in the Nordic Region as a whole. Daðason highlighted the importance of thinking in terms of solutions that involve multiple sectors. Iceland is in the process of implementing a Wellbeing Act that obliges all official agencies to work with each other and with external parties. Denmark is considering a similar approach. The government has set up a Wellbeing Commission consisting of experts, researchers and organisations to look at ways of preventing mental health issues and vulnerability among children and young people.
Challenges in the physical and digital worlds
Young people can feel vulnerable in both the physical and digital worlds. Sweden is focusing closely on preventing them from being affected by or involved in organised crime and gang wars. Again, the approach is multidisciplinary and involves the police, social services and voluntary organisations all working together. It is not just in the physical world that young people face challenges. Digital wellbeing and safety were also debated at the meeting. The Norwegian minister informed the meeting that the country is focusing on drawing up a comprehensive policy for a safer life online for children and young people.
The ministers agreed to continue the dialogue about the challenges faced and potential solutions.