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Children and Youth



Several outcomes for children during 2023 (or the latest year data available) took a turn for the worse compared with previous years, but there were still signs of meaningful improvement in other indicators.

Child poverty is a key indicator of child wellbeing and by mid-2022 (most recent data) significant reductions in child poverty had been achieved since 2018. However, disparities in child material hardship rates continue to be high for Pacific children, Māori children and children in households affected by disability. In mid-2022, tamariki Māori made up nearly half of all children in material hardship and there had been no significant reduction in Pacific children’s material hardship since 2019. The number of children in benefit households increased during 2023, meaning more children are at risk of living in poverty.

Number of children in poverty selected measures—2018 and 2022 (June)

The overall level of psychological distress among young people aged 15–24 reduced somewhat in 2023 but is still some three times higher than a decade ago. At the same time, the number of deaths from suspected suicide declined in all age groups under 25 years, with the number among 15- to 19-year-olds the lowest in the past 15 years.

Education outcomes in 2022 (most recent data) continued to be impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic as well as natural disasters, with students in lower-income communities more affected than others. NCEA achievement rates continued to fall, with the proportion of students leaving school with at least NCEA Level 1 the lowest since 2013, while those leaving with University Entrance (UE) also fell. School attendance rates picked up again after record lows in the previous year but remain low compared with earlier years.

School leavers with NCEA Level 1 or above, taught in English and te reo Māori—2012–2022

Youth offending increased for the first time since 2017, although it remains at levels less than half that of a decade ago. Reports of violent offending against children rose again in 2023, sharpening a trend of increasing violence towards children. Reports of concern about potential child abuse rose again after a decrease in the previous year but remained at levels lower than five years ago, and the number of substantiated child abuse cases remained around the same level as 2022. The teenage pregnancy rate increased for the first time in more than a decade, which was accompanied by an increase in the number of abortions in that age group.

Number of children aged under 15 years who have been reported as being victims of a violent crime—2018–2023 (June years)


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