Australian-born, Barcelona resident, Brett Hetherington has kindly shared a chapter from his new book, “The ReMade Parent: Why We Are Losing Our Children & How We Can Get Them Back”. Chapter 5 asks the question, ‘Is Spain a parent’s paradise?’.
Spain: A Parent’s Paradise?
Sometimes I’m asked why I am living in Spain.
The short answer is that like many other immigrants I live in Spain because I want to. It took ten years of trying to arrange work here (from outside Europe) but a main reason my partner and I have chosen this country is because we believe it is one of the best places in the world to bring up a young child.
But is there in fact somewhere on the planet that is virtually a paradise for parents, and therefore more likely to be ideal for children too? Is here the place where there is no need to re-make parenting because perfection has already been achieved?
Spain is a long way from being without flaws but there are genuine signs that it is, by some important measurements, one of the top five countries for kids to grow up in. A United Nations (UNICEF) report published in 2007 examined various aspects of child welfare and Spain was assessed overall as being only behind the Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark and Finland.
In particular, Spain was measured as the second highest for ‘subjective well-being’ (which is “experienced and described” by the children themselves) from twenty-one ‘rich’ countries. [i] Spain was also judged to be in the top eight for its safety, health and ‘family and peer relationships’. It ranked in fifth place regarding activities affecting both physical and mental health but was as low as fifteenth spot for education, defined by school attainment and transition to employment. [ii]
Even if we do not accept that these aspects of life can be always accurately measured, when put together they do point toward a quality to young people’s lives here that is far better than say, the USA or the UK (who came in 20th and 21st place respectively).
My perspective on this country (which is more accurately described as a collection of separate “regional” or (semi)-autonomous nations) is naturally that of a migrant. At the time of writing my family and I have lived here for just over three years, which is enough time to get strong opinions on this land, but these impressions have obviously been formed from the position of an ‘outsider’.
I believe I can be relatively objective and clear-eyed about this part of the world as I have almost no nationalistic prejudices towards Spain or for that matter, about my country of birth (except perhaps in a sporting event!)
“In this country people care about kids” – The case for:
When asked about the benefits of raising a family in Spain many mothers and fathers will tell you about the climate here, the outdoor lifestyle, the beaches, the open spaces and the natural beauty of the plains, forests and mountains. Those from more northerly countries such as England and the Netherlands will often first mention how much the sun is an attraction for them and how the longer summer days with their extra hours of light are a source of enjoyment. Cheaper house prices are also a factor for many.
But to someone like me who spent the first three-quarters of their life in Australia, there are a range of other reasons why I also value this part of the world for living and parenting. One of the things I have come to see as remarkable is how children are valued and treated in Europe, but particularly in Mediterranean countries such as this one.
Here, it is a common sight to see both men and women with their heads leaning over other people’s prams talking, smiling and engaging babies and toddlers. Older children (and even teenagers!) are also generally well-acknowledged and greeted by non-parental adults, and this can only partly be explained by a greater number of extended families and relatives still living nearby, as is traditional.
Quite simply, parents will often take their children with them when they go out to socialise. One summer, I came out of a live music club in the centre of my town at 3 o’clock in the morning (a rare event for me these days) and saw a baby under the age of two happily toddling around with her parents!
Of course, staying out late at night has long been part of Spanish culture for adults and the children alike. As journalist José Luis Barberia puts it: “In fact, being allowed to stay out after midnight has long been something of a rite of passage for young teenagers. More than 40 percent of young people choose to go out every weekend night.” [iii]
While this may concern many outside this part of the world, there appears to be no significant ill-effects on most young people, largely because alcohol and drug consumption is generally moderate (except at certain times, which I discuss in ‘the Case Against’ in the next section).
Probably the fact that younger Spaniards are accepted and even encouraged to be part of the enjoyment of adult life (including ‘night life’) is because they usually don’t cause any serious problems when they are out and about.
In contrast though, the traditional attitude towards children and adolescents in so many other parts of the ‘developed’ world was that they should be ‘seen and not heard’. As a kid myself I was told this on a number of occasions and the fact that I remember those comments thirty years later shows how much it registered with me then.
It is arguably not deserved, but the prevailing attitude today in England or ‘newer’ nations like Australia or the USA is that children are largely a nuisance, particularly so when they are not your own children. Just the word ‘youth’ immediately conjures up mental associations that are disturbing for many.
To my mind, coming across the typical gathering of teenagers in the average Spanish street is a whole lot less ominous, intimidating or threatening than in English-speaking countries. Spain’s young may be as noisy as anywhere else but there is rarely any menace about their behaviour in public and there is often a kind of deference and politeness to adults that is rare in the ‘wealth-comes-first’ societies.
Equally, I have observed a confidence in the young here, particularly so with teenagers, that I consider being a kind of “self-possession” and it is much rarer elsewhere. Whether this air of assurance comes from spending more time socialising with and around adults, or instead comes from other sources is hard to know but to me it is a noticeable part of this society.
I am not suggesting here that there is a complete absence of false bravado (which is epitomised by hip-hop/rap culture that now prevails in so many places) but this quality does not seem to come from being particularly independent or self-reliant – probably the opposite.
One possible explanation for this youthful self-possession can be found in how well younger children are treated by older children here – something I was pleasantly surprised to find. While there is bullying and rancor amongst siblings just as in all other countries, in public at least, the littler ones are looked after with kindness and concern by the bigger kids. It is still common custom for the elder brothers and sisters to keep an eye on their younger family members when parents and grandparents are not around.
Bart, a Jewish-American father of two has picked up on this aspect of life in Spain also. He believes:
“People truly care about other people’s kids here. There is a strong sense of community and our children are part of the wider group. We were invited to parties by the locals in the first week that we moved here and I can only say that we have been warmly welcomed.”
In Spain (and in Catalonia where I live) the importance of family and children has an almost guaranteed place in the habitual routines of life. Every Sunday is “family day” and this is quite a firmly established custom.
Unlike England, Sunday does not mean going to the indoor shopping mall or the ‘high street’ and wandering around in a vaguely semi-together way or staying inside fixed on the computer or watching TVs in your separate rooms, here it means being together, eating together, going for a walk together and generally acting as a tight-knit, often extended, family group.
Very few shops are open on this hallowed day and only restaurants seem to do good business, and this is still largely true about the biggest and most modernised cities like Barcelona. There are other factors at work also, but in those parts of the world where they have seven-days-a-week trading hours (such as Australia) it is no coincidence that family breakdowns are at their highest.
While undoubtedly the family unit and its traditions, such as the long Sunday gathering, can at times be claustrophobic and in some senses even suffocating, it surely has significant benefits as well. Spending at least one full day out of every seven days in the shared company of family must be good for building relationships, even if there might be moments of tension or resentment during ‘socially-enforced’ togetherness.
Of course, families (including my family) cannot be separated from a much wider society, and in Spain I think this is particularly so. The social environment outside the home is also vitally important in children’s development, partly because it is brought into the home through technology such as the internet and the media, probably something most apparent in television. In general there is a lot of anecdotal evidence to suggest that despite a large increase in unemployment due to the recent economic crisis Spain is still a happy place overall. Society is basically contented, and more systematic studies seem to confirm this.
A recent World Health Organisation (WHO) survey found that only around 6% of Spain’s populace showed a ‘prevalence of any emotional distress’ compared to at least 22% of Brits and Australians or a staggering 26% of Americans. [iv] So, if the world outside the front door is mainly free from tension and anxiety then it makes common sense that the private world is more likely to also be relatively tranquil much of the time.
Education is one area that can be a source of worry for mothers and fathers, but in Spain evidence strongly suggests that this is not the case. In a study of parental attitudes towards their child’s school, 80.5% of respondents said very much agreed that “it is easy to contact teachers” and to the same high degree 76.2% agreed with the statement that “parents are welcome [at] school.” The same research also found that 73.2% very much thought that “Teachers are polite and communicative with parents.” [v]
However, in a report published by FUNCAS [la Fundación de las Cajas de Ahorros] 49.5% of parents believe that the level of knowledge expected from their children today is ‘too low’, 44.6% say it is ‘acceptable’ and only 5.5% think it is ‘too high’. Despite this, the parents surveyed gave the Spanish education system as a whole 3 out of 5 and 82% said they were either ‘happy’ or ‘very happy’ with their child’s school, giving the schools themselves an average of 4.1 marks out of 5.
Víctor Pérez-Díaz, one of the authors of the report, concludes from these results that families are generally happy with their children’s schools, but not with the quality of teaching in Spain on the whole. Interestingly, a huge majority, 95.6% of the parents interviewed, felt that the main responsibility for educating their children lay with them, with 72.9% agreeing that the family is the single most influential factor in a child’s education, with 15.8% citing friends and classmates and only 6.9% citing the school itself.” [vi]
[This report is based on 820 telephone interviews with parents of primary and secondary pupils, the majority in state schools, although private and grant maintained centres (such as Privada Concertadas) were also represented.]
These are just a few points in favour of Spain being a type of paradise for children and parents alike. In brief, I suggest that some other important factors are:
- Some parents (including myself) believe that compared to many other countries, Spain is generally a more physically secure place for children and adults alike. Ruben, a father of a two-year old boy, says: “I used to live in the [United] States and I think it is a lot safer here. There’s less violence and gun crime and the streets don’t feel anywhere near as dangerous as they can do in America.”
- At the end of 2007 Spain had joined with another 16 of the 46 European Union member nations to ban the hitting of children. In Spanish law parents were previously allowed to ‘reasonably and moderately correct their children’, but the Socialist government of José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero has voted to delete that clause in order to remove any ambiguity.
- In 2000, the Parliament in Spain’s autonomous region of Navarra passed a ground-breaking law allowing all registered couples in that region (including same-sex couples) to adopt children. (In the first Chapter of this book I made the point that a parent should be thought of as anyone who can provide to a child continuous care, concern and affection.)
- Spain has become the second country in the world in number of international adoptions (only behind the USA) [vii] so this is good news for anyone wanting to be an adoptive parent.
- While racism in Spain is a genuine problem and those from minority backgrounds are routinely ill-treated here (as I elaborate on in the following section: ‘the Case Against’) there are signs that tolerance for people from outside Spain is slowly growing. Whether this is just from the sheer weight of numbers of ‘guiris’ that now live here is difficult to know with any real certainty, but Manuela, a mother of two primary school aged kids represents the growth of a more accepting, embracing face of Spain when she says: “We have to be open to other cultures. In the future my children will have opportunities to know boys and girls from other places. When they are young they are like a sponge so this will prepare them well for life, especially if they travel or go to live somewhere else. My son came home recently and said ‘I have a new friend from India at my school.’ I think that is a kind of training!”
- Unlike Australia for example, Spain has a strong history (and a lively culture today) of political and intellectual debate. Those who use words as their business (including writers and media figures) are generally well-respected. While, it is true that some of the debate of current issues can be predictably rigid along ideological lines, the fact that a healthy public discussion exists at all means that young people can and do become active in local movements and organisations. The pride that so many adults and children have of their town and region means that they often take an active interest in defending it and being part of its collective life. A lot less Spaniards move away from their home area than say, North Americans, which creates bonds of attachment to the people and places of they grew up with. In other words, adults and younger people “know their roots” here and have a fundamental respect for them.
- Related to this point above is the fact that in Spain there are plenty of public open spaces that are not there to be commercial. The plazas are not shopping centres and the ramblas are not principally designed for trade. The parks are many and they are not “retail parks” for buying and selling. The town square is not a “mall” but is instead reserved for festivals or protests. All these places are for idling, strolling, gathering and talking, socialising and playing. They are social by their nature and they function as spaces for community activities rather than for simply spending money. To someone like myself who grew up with the focal point of young life being a multi-storey shopping centre, I am happy to know that my son and his friends will not be spending their free time sitting around in a place where everyone is first and foremost a consumer.
- Partly because kids do not generally get themselves together at fast food joints, on the whole, Spain has a culture of healthy food. Unlike Britain or the USA, most adult people eat well most of the time and this generally translates to the younger in society. Problems of child obesity in Spain are much less severe than the USA (although Spain seems to be catching up fast, according to figures for overweight children published in 2005.) [viii] Broadly speaking, the prevalence of typical “junk food,” especially the major brands and international chains, is lower in Spain than many other developed countries. Much has been written and spoken about the benefits of the Mediterranean diet and perhaps this is one of the reasons why in a survey in 2009, three-quarters of Spanish people rated their own health as very good or good, placing Spain second in Europe. [ix]
Blanca, a mother of three who has also lived in several countries outside the Iberian Peninsula has a view of Spain that certainly sums up many of the benefits of residing in this country. Her words make a fitting conclusion to the case in favour of Spain being a parental paradise:
“I think children feel more free here than in many other countries. They can run and play because you can count on friends and neighbours. In England I didn’t feel this. People there just mind their own business and look the other way. We all know each other here and you spend more time together.
“Children here are not raised to be internationally-minded” – The case against:
Spain may have many points in favour of it being a paradise for parents (as well as for children) but there are also downsides to being a mother and father here. Forces working in opposition to good parenting are many and varied and they are causing this country to be a less than perfect place to raise kids.
One thing that shocked me soon after moving here was that many parents in Spain are quite blasé about letting their children play with fireworks. I personally witnessed a very nasty example of this at our first Saint John’s Day celebrations. A (then 5-year-old) friend of my son’s had been allowed to play with firecrackers by himself for several hours and with little direct supervision by his parents.
This boy was standing very close to a small bonfire in the square where we were and he threw some kind of cracker into. As was likely, it exploded, injuring a girl nearby as well as damaging this boy’s face and eyes. My wife had the presence of mind to throw water in his eyes and he was rushed screaming to a hospital for treatment.
Judging purely from the size of the blast from the fire, I would say he was quite fortunate to have not suffered permanent eye damage. (Perhaps the only pleasing result from that is that because our son also saw this happen to his friend, he still has a strong fear of firecrackers years after the event.)
Another who shares these concerns is Juan Pedro Barret, the head of the burns unit at the Vall d’Hebron hospital in Barcelona. Doctor Barret is fed up of seeing injuries caused by the misuse of fireworks, including the need for hands, fingers and feet to be amputated.
He believes that the night of San Juan [ie. Saint John] is always one of the worst times to have to be on duty in the accident and emergency department. According to him [x] there is a constant flow of injured people but that after the mid-nineties when safety measures improved the number of those seriously harmed has decreased somewhat.
[Significantly, the person who drove this boy to the hospital (45 kilometers away in Barcelona) was almost a stranger to the boy’s parents. A neighbour of ours, whose son was in the same class as our son and the injured boy, he had not formally met these parents until that night. It was surely an act of selfless generosity to make the dash to get specialist treatment for the boy’s damaged eye since they could not drive that night and he knew the quickest way there.]
In one El Pais newspaper poll [xi] (of 2,165 people) 70% supported the placement of restrictions on festivals with fireworks due to danger. But while many people in Spain have a relaxed attitude towards explosives around them, where there is fire there is also smoke (to swap around an old English expression).
Here I mean smoke from cigarettes, and in this most Spaniards see no problem with smoking around the young and very young. One survey from 2008 done by the nation’s Society of Pneumology and Thoracic Surgery found that between 50 and 70% of Spanish children are in effect, passive smokers. [xii] The same report showed that 92% of homes here are not smoke-free, which is the highest in Europe. [xiii] In fact, 85% of the country’s smokers admit to smoking around non-smokers, many of whom are children.
Perhaps, this honesty should be admired but it also suggests that the health problems caused by cigarettes are either not well-understood or are being widely ignored. It makes a sad contrast with a country such as Italy which is beginning to leave its ‘smoke anywhere you like’ culture behind. Spain is yet to follow the example of the Italian city of Naples and prohibit smoking in public parks where there are children under the age of twelve or pregnant women. [xiv]
While smoking affects children’s healthy growth, there is another factor that I believe is stunting kids (and grown-up’s) mental and social development here. Put simply, Spain is nowhere near as multicultural as countries like the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand or Britain.
This is a real downside for any parent who wants to raise their children brought up with tolerance for the mixed-culture world that we are all part of, to some degree, in the early 21st century (whether we like it or not!)
Thanks to relatively new immigration policies Spain is now more ethnically mixed than the homogeneous societies of Japan, Finland or Korea, but today’s Spain still lacks large and well-established communities from outside its borders.
There are increasing numbers of North Africans and Eastern Europeans for example, but non-Spanish are still at the margins of society in a cultural sense here. I think that children benefit greatly from growing up alongside other young people who might look different to them, eat different foods sometimes, speak different languages and have parents who come from a spectrum of the globe.
Spain is changing in this regard though, and in many bigger cities and towns the change is happening very fast. The progressive attitudes of those like Manuela in the previous section, who has embraced the idea of an increasingly multi-cultural Spain, are still not as common as they could be. Femka, a Dutch mother of two pre-teens sees this drawback:
“Children here are not raised to be internationally-minded. At school they are focused too much on learning about this area and its geography. They don’t learn enough about the rest of the world. Also, the quality of English teaching and other languages is poor in government schools.”
In fact Spain reminds me very much of Australia or Britain in the 1950’s and 1960’s in this regard. It is only in the last decade that Spain is really just beginning to experience significant numbers of migrants arriving from across the globe, but those officially classed as ‘foreign’ do now account for 13% of the population. [xv]
Both Australia and Britain then displayed the types of ignorance-based racism that Spain does today. Bigotry by Anglo-Saxon still exists widely, but it often takes a more modern form – one that comes from years of proximity and at least partial integration with minority ethnic communities whose children are second-generation ‘migrants’ and often very much part of mainstream society.
And when it comes to mainstream in Spain, one of the most widespread aspects to life here (despite rising numbers of divorces) is the potency of the family unit, as I discussed in the previous section. But this strength can also create a weakness.
As Javier Elzo, Professor of Sociology at the University of Deusto in Bilbao notes, “Spain has one of the lowest percentages of young people independent from the family.” [xvi] According to the Youth Institute ‘Injuve’ almost two-thirds of Spaniards aged 25 to 29 live off their parents, [xvii] a figure that highlights a drift towards a greater number of “eternal adolescents” who live at home until well into adulthood and (possibly) grow up only if they have their own children one day.
As journalist José Luis Barbería discovered, this is something common across developed nations, but is at a very high level in Spain. Surveys show that young Spaniards (between 15 and 29 years of age) love their families above all else. But they also show that 51% of young Spanish men and 50% of women with a job and the funds to ‘fly the roost’ choose not to do so.
By comparison, in France, which shares many of the strong family ties common throughout southern European countries, the figures are 37% and 33% respectively. [xviii]
I believe this is a genuine problem because it denies parents a degree of freedom from their children that they have most likely deserved by that stage in their life. It also creates an ingrained habit of reliance amongst the grown-up children that is harmful. It can cause these adults to be a lot less responsible than is ideal, if they themselves become parents.
Another troubling development is an apparent increase in alcohol consumption by young people in this country. One recent Ministry of Health survey revealed that while one in four teenagers drank to get drunk ten years ago, a full 50% of them do so now. [xix] Some observers point to mass drinking parties in the street or on the beach, a phenomenon known as botellón (or ‘big bottle’) as evidence of this problem.
In the view of María Jesús Funes, a professor at Madrid’s National Distance Learning University, the botellón is more of an excuse for young people to meet and a social expression than a problem of mass alcoholism. [xx]
This is certainly not a view that was shared by María Amelia, “the world’s oldest blogger”. An internationally known Galician grandmother who died in 2009 at the age of 95, she complained bitterly about a botellón that had overflowed from a local festival next to her home in Muxía, A Coruña. In her mind the all-night loud music that shook her house was a mark of disrespect and was “crazy barbarism”. She could not understand how it could possibly be fun. [xxi]
In some cases, these events indicate a selfishness that is indifferent to the need for people to sleep, and shows an attitude of not caring about where creating a mess of broken bottles, vomit, and urine outside other’s houses. This is not the Spain that I want my son to grow up in.
These are a few major reasons why Spain may not always be the best place for anyone’s children to grow up in, but I have some more worries too:
- At the time of writing, Spain’s unemployment was stuck at around 20%, and among 16-to-25-year-olds it was a whopping 38% – the highest youth unemployment rate in Europe. [xxii] This figure shows up what many economists have said for a number of years about Spain’s economy being too reliant on the building boom and tourism. It suggests a future, at least in the medium term where jobs for young people (as well as some parents) are going to be scarcer.
- Childcare can be of a very good quality in Spain, as I know from personal experience, but its availability can be as fragmented as a piece of Gaudí architecture. Isabella, a single mother of a teenager laments: “This country is twenty years behind others when it comes to workplace childcare facilities. It is a very difficult situation for working mothers. There’s no big problems for the fathers but if you don’t have relatives nearby to help you are always paying for the help you need.”
- Spain comes close to the average of [fifteen days] paid maternity and paternity leave but lags behind many other European countries (particularly those in Scandinavia) when it comes to comprehensive support for parents. I would argue that in this crucial area the model for all parts of the world should be Iceland, where fathers can take leave from work for a full three months on 80% of their wages.
- The typical Spanish extended family can extend itself much too far. Maria, one mother I know was so determined to escape her constantly intrusive, nagging and often insulting mother-in-law that she felt she had no choice but to move out of the house that she shared with her husband’s parents. (She actually moved to another country!) A living situation with this kind of unnecessary stress is probably best avoided, for the sake of the children involved, as much as the parents.
- Some attitudes towards the very young are downright bizarre. A case in point is the festival of El Colacho in the small village of Castrillo de Murcia, located at the foothills of the Cantabrian Mountains. This particular celebration began in 1620 and is held every year on the ‘feast day’ of Corpus Christi. All babies born in the previous twelve months are laid on a mattress in two rows and the local adult men (dressed as devils) take turns jumping over the babies. Injuries often result, though these are usually to the adults. There has apparently been a belief that this jumping rids the babies of “original sin” though the Catholic Church now says it frowns on this tradition. Using babies as a kind of flat hurdle might amuse some people but I can’t help thinking that anywhere that takes these kinds of risks with infants is putting a priority on continuing an absurd superstition ahead of common sense child safety.
- Spain is not immune from what has been called the ‘Californication’ of the world. American culture (especially clothes and music) is hugely popular with teenagers but also in pre-teen culture such as movies, toys, and cartoons. This type of ‘colonisation’ has not gone as far here (yet) as it has in countries such as Australia or Japan and the fact that Spain has a strong pre-existing customs of its own does lessen the effect of Californication. Even so, the force of this tide is strong enough to have an impact on young Spaniard’s attitudes and habits (including buying habits). The current generation of young people are not the first to have an interest and taste for culture outside Spain but American influence is seemingly stronger now than ever. I don’t want my child to live in a virtual 51st state of the USA. It has many problems that this part of the world can do without.
So, what can we learn from Spain and it’s parents & children?
We can start by:
- Realising that while Spain may not be a complete paradise for bringing up kids it has a number of benefits that clearly makes it one of the better places to live (and breed! And raise a brood!);
- Admiring that in general Spain (just like other Mediterranean societies) has a great natural affection for children;
- Acknowledging that there is a lot more than just a good climate and natural attractions that make it a good place for parents and young people to thrive in.
We can also:
- Take account of the benefits of (shopping less) and spending plenty of leisure time with our kids, as is the established custom in Spain;
- Marvel at the confidence and (usually) good behaviour of particularly older Spanish children, with other young people and around adults in public;
- See how the strength of the family unit endures here (despite more divorces and hard economic problems);
- Note that parents believe that there are some definite advantages in the school systems here (though there are also drawbacks as well);
- Conclude that while Spain is generally a relatively safe place with (mainly) progressive attitudes and laws, there can be alarmingly carefree attitudes towards certain aspects of child safety and health (though there are recent changes for the better to both laws and habits);
- Balance the fact that there is a healthy tolerance of different cultures with the problem that partly because of racist attitudes, genuine multiculturalism does not yet exist;
- View with a degree of concern that Spain may be getting closer to other countries with problems of alcohol abuse by young people;
- Take into account that Spain generally has open intellectual debate; active pride in home towns; wonderful non-commercial public spaces, and a good food culture, BUT it also has very high unemployment, particularly amongst young people; a disjointed child care system; only average maternity/paternity leave arrangements, and is (just like many other parts of the world) embracing American youth culture too eagerly.
- Child poverty in perspective: An overview of child well-being in rich countries [Back]
- El País, 17/03/2009 [Back]
- K. Demyttenaere, et al., ‘Prevalence, severity, and unmet need for treatment of mental disorders in the World Health Organization World Mental Health Surveys,’ Journal of the American Medical Association, 291, 2004, p.2581-90. [Back]
- Family education and implications for partnership with schools in Spain [PDF] [Back]
- Intercultural relations, racialisation and experiences of international adoption in Europe: the Catalan Case [PDF] [Back]
- International Obesity Task Force EU Platform Briefing Paper [PDF] [Back]
- Three-quarters of Spanish people rate their own health as very good or good, ranking Spain second in Europe [Back]
- El País, 20/02/2009 [Back]
- Ibid [Back]
- España, el país donde más padres fuman delante de sus hijos [Back]
www.informativos.telecinco.es/menores_fumadores_pasivos/espa%C3%B1a/dn_62182.htm[Back] www.lavanguardia.es/premium/publica/publica?COMPID=53412502489&ID_PAGINA=22088&ID_FORMATO=9&turbourl=false[Back] www.spainculturalprogram.com.au/curiosa.html#economy[Back]
- El País, 17/03/2009 [Back]
- El País, 27/10/2009 [Back]
- José Luis Barbería:La infancia más corta, la adolescencia más larga [Back]
- Binge drinking among Spanish teens on the rise [Back]
- El País, 29/01/2009 [Back]
- Botellón [Back]
- El País, 27/10/2009 [Back]
Brett Hetherington was a secondary school teacher for 15 years and is a regular commentator on Spain’s social and cultural life for Australia’s ABC Radio, as well as being a monthly columnist for Catalonia Today magazine.
He is also a freelance journalist. Some of his work has appeared in The Guardian online, The Australian Journalism Review, Barcelona Metropolitan and Monocle.
Brett lives with his partner/wife Paula and their young son Hugo in Catalonia’s Barcelona region.