One in Three Children Globally Say We Are Failing in Our Duty to Protect Them

Small Voices, Big Dreams Survey by ChildFund Alliance and Christian Children’s Fund of Canada Unveils Children’s Views on Child Rights

MARKHAM, ON (November 20, 2014) — Canadian children place their country among the world’s best when it comes to protecting their rights, but according to a new global survey of children released by Christian Children’s Fund of Canada (CCFC), there is still a lot of room for improvement.

Children WishThe Small Voices, Big Dreams Survey conducted by ChildFund Alliance, found that nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of Canadian children agree that their right to be protected from harm and mistreatment are always or often observed. Germany (67 percent) was the only country to score higher. At the other end of the spectrum, only four percent of Liberian children and 12 percent of children in Ghana agree that this essential right is being honoured. Although Canada should be extremely proud of being a world leader in this area, the truth is that we have to do more to help the 36 percent of Canadian children who do not feel protected.

“Canada fares better than most in the survey when compared to other developed countries — only three percent of Canadian children feel their ‘participation rights’ are not being supported,” said Felicitas Adrian, CCFC’s Vice-President of Fund Development and Communications on the Canadian survey results. “However, almost half of the Canadian children surveyed say their voice is only heard sometimes. As adults, we need to make better efforts to listen to our children’s needs and respect their rights, whether they are ‘survival’, ‘development’, ‘protection’ or ‘participation rights’.”

When asked about what child rights mean to them, Canadian children were more likely (33 percent) to cite ‘participation rights’ such as the right to play or participate in community activities. Only 18 percent of Canadian respondents identified ‘survival rights’  like access to nutritious food and water as rights they are immediately concerned about.

Children Around the Globe Speak Out

image005The fifth annual Small Voices, Big Dreams Survey is one of the most comprehensive polls of children’s views in the world. This year, to mark the 25th anniversary of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, 6,040 children aged 10 to 12 years in 44 countries across the Americas, Europe, Africa and Asia were asked for their views on child rights.

The results clearly show that we have to do more to protect the most vulnerable members of our communities. In fact, a startling one-third (32 percent) of children from throughout the globe say that their basic rights to be protected are not being met.

The international study also found that one in five (19 percent) or approximately 450 million children around the world say that children in their country are never or rarely protected from physical or psychological abuse. Twenty percent of respondents also say children are rarely or never protected from doing harmful work in their country. This was a far bigger concern for children in developing countries (28 percent) than children in developed countries (eight percent) where basic needs are a more immediate concern.

“More than two decades after world governments ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, it is clear that far too many children are still not being protected from the worst excesses of violence and exploitation,” said Mark Lukowski, Chief Executive Officer, CCFC. “Most disturbing is the worldwide concern that all children surveyed have that they are not being protected from harm. While this is disproportionately higher in developing countries, it is clearly a fear shared by children everywhere and one that world leaders need to address immediately.”

A Tale of Two Worlds

The poll found some marked differences in responses between children in developing countries and their peers in the developed world. When asked which rights of children are not being upheld in their country, the top response from children surveyed in developing countries was access to school and time to study (29 percent), which was cited by only four percent of children in developed countries.

“Children in developing countries put a much greater value on education because it offers a way out of extreme poverty,” said Lukowski. “Unfortunately, it is still denied to many, whereas it is a right that children in wealthier countries often take for granted. It’s a difference in opinion that has been reflected in past years’ survey results.”

When asked how well children in their country are protected from being hurt or mistreated, more than half (57 percent) of those surveyed in developed countries said children are always or often protected, compared with a third (33 percent) in developing countries. Children in developing countries are also more concerned about child labour. When asked how well children in their country are protected from doing harmful work, 70 percent of respondents in developed countries said always or often, compared with only 30 percent of children in developing countries.

To download the full report, visit voices-big-dreams

About Small Voices, Big Dreams

image001The Small Voices, Big Dreams survey was undertaken by the ChildFund Alliance during May-July 2014. The survey was conducted in 44 countries with children aged 10 to 12. This included 34 developing nations in Africa, Asia and the Americas as well as 10 developed countries. A total of 6,040 children were surveyed – 3,635 children in developing countries and 2,405 children in developed nations. 

Three of the six questions were open-ended, meaning the children were not given a list of answers to choose from. The three remaining questions were multiple response answers. All translated responses were provided to GfK, a global research company, to process the data. Code frames were developed by GfK Roper’s global research team and approved by ChildFund. The data was then compiled, coded and tabulated by GfK Roper.


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