RICHMOND, Va.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Two months after the United Nations made protecting children against
violence a global priority, almost half of young children in developing
countries say that they believe that children are not safe in their own
homes. About the same number of American kids believes that children are
at risk on the Internet.
The findings are part of a just-released survey sponsored by the
ChildFund Alliance of nearly 6,000 children ages 10 to 12 in 44
countries around the world, as well as a parallel survey of 1,353 U.S.
kids, ages 6 to 18 in largely impoverished areas, commissioned by
ChildFund International, the U.S. member of the Alliance.
According to the sixth annual Small Voices, Big Dreams survey –
conducted through one-on-one interviews in the field – 46 percent of
children in developing nations say they believe that children are most
at risk of being harmed at home, the second-highest survey response
behind “walking in places alone” (55%). (Children could select more than
In the parallel survey, U.S. children say they think that kids are least
safe walking in their neighborhoods (cited by 64% of respondents) and in
parks (45%). Almost as many (44%) say children are not safe online.
Almost nine in 10 American kids (89%) say children here are not at risk
of danger at home.
“Governments around the world have collectively committed to protecting
children against violence through the U.N.’s Sustainable Development
Goals, which were adopted last September, and the results of this survey
illuminate how children see the dangers that confront their generation,”
said Anne Lynam Goddard, president and CEO of ChildFund International.
“While many children are exposed to various forms of despicable violence
– forced hazardous labor, sexual trafficking and abductions, among them
– we also know that their safety is regularly threatened in places they
should feel the most secure: at home and in school. These findings serve
as a pointed reminder of the extent of the commitment we must make to
keep children safe.”
The survey’s results reflect significant variation among the disparate
nations. In the African country of Guinea, for example, only 4 percent
of children say that children are at risk for harm at home, while in
Togo, 94 percent of children say the children of their country are
unsafe at home.
Survey participants were asked for their insights as to why they believe
adults mistreat children. Children in developing nations are split as to
the primary reason with 40 percent saying it is because “adults have
power” and 35 percent attribute it to being the “child’s fault.”
Similarly, 32 percent cite “punishment” as being behind the abuse.
In Australia, 70 percent of children surveyed say that adults harm
children due to drugs or intoxication. Three in five French children
(60%) believe that abuse is the result of their parents themselves
having been mistreated as children.
“This annual survey reminds us of the honesty and clarity in how
children see the world around them,” Goddard said. “These truths often
point to the areas that most need our attention.”
When asked what they would do to better protect children if they were
the leader of their country, one in five children (22%) in developing
countries say they would punish the abusers/send them to prison while 20
percent say they would pass, strengthen or better enforce laws designed
to protect children.
One in three (32%) of American children agree with the emphasis on
passing and/or enforcing laws that will more effectively protect them.
In Afghanistan, one in three children (32%) say that if they were their
country’s leader they would require that children finish their
educations. Thirty-nine percent of Vietnamese children say they would
discourage bad behavior while exemplifying good behavior.
As for the most important thing that children believe adults –
especially parents and caregivers – can do to keep children safer,
children in developing nations are largely split. Almost one in five
(18%) say that adults should listen to what children have to say. The
next-most popular answers: Educate other adults about why children
deserve better treatment (13%); report cases of harm against children
(11%); and enact stronger laws to protect children’s rights (10%).
More than one in three children in the United States (35%) agree that
adults should listen to children more, with a quarter (23%) saying that
harm against children should be reported to the proper authorities.
In the Asian nation of Timor-Leste, about two-thirds of children (64%)
say that adults should “love children more,” while one in four children
in Mexico (25%) and Liberia (25%) say that adults should see that people
who hurt children are punished.
“As in years past, the children who participated in this survey are
those whose voices are rarely heard and whose opinions are rarely
sought,” Goddard said. “Not only do these results provide a forum for
some of the world’s most vulnerable children to tell us collectively
what they see, but their insights also give us important direction for
how we should shape our efforts to best serve them.”
About ChildFund International
ChildFund International is a global child development and protection
agency serving 20 million children and family members in 30 countries.
For 75 years, we have helped the world’s deprived, excluded and
vulnerable children survive and thrive to reach their full potential and
become leaders of enduring change. As a member of ChildFund Alliance, we
create supportive environments in which children can flourish. For more
information about ChildFund, visit www.ChildFund.org.