Culture & Entertainment

The Small Voices, Big Dreams survey reveals children’s view on child rights

By: Day Helesic
Canadian Living
Culture & Entertainment

The Small Voices, Big Dreams survey reveals children’s view on child rights

By: Day Helesic
Small Voices Big Dreams Survey Guest Post by Katherine George A recent survey shows that Canadian children believe their country is one of the best places in the world to protect child rights. But what about the rest of the world? The Christian Children’s Fund of Canada has released the results of an annual survey conducted by ChildFund Alliance  called Small Voices, Big Dreams. The survey collects the opinions, feelings and observations of children around the globe and is one of the only existing polls that gives comprehensive insight into children’s views. “Children are very conscious of what’s happening around the world and what children need. We believe there is no better source to speak out on what’s happening,” says Mark Lukowski, chief executive officer at the Christian Children’s Fund of Canada. In the Small Voices, Big Dreams survey, 6,040 children aged 10 to 12 from 44 countries across the Americas, Europe, Africa and Asia were asked about child rights. The results show that one-third of children across the globe believe their basic rights are not being protected. Despite successful strides in countries like Canada, there’s still a dire need for improvement. On the global spectrum, almost half of the children who participated in the survey associate child rights with development rights, such as education. In one of my recent trips to Africa, I volunteered in a program aimed at keeping children off the streets. The children I encountered came from nearby townships where attending school on a regular basis was rare. Chessie, a child who attended the program, was regularly absent from school, so we began tutoring him. I soon learned Chessie was supposed to be in Grade 5 with his peers, but he was learning at a Grade 1 level. It was heartbreaking to see a child with such immense potential not participating in such a basic human right. The survey unveils that children’s perceptions about what constitutes child rights differ greatly depending on their country. Children in developing countries were more likely to cite access to school and time available to study as the most important child right that’s not upheld, whereas only four percent of Canadian children viewed that as a problem in their country. Children in developing countries put much more value on education because it’s the only means of escaping poverty or harmful work like child labour, says Lukowski. On the other hand, 33 percent of Canadian children believe child rights are “participation rights,” such as the right to engage in community activities. Canada fares well in comparison to other countries, with only three percent of children stating that their participation rights are not being upheld; Germany was the only other surveyed country to score higher. However, there are 450 million children around the world who believe their country never or rarely protects them from physical and psychological harm. This is a much greater concern in developing countries, where 24 percent of children said they rarely receive protection from physical or psychological harm. As future leaders of the world, the surveyed children were asked what they would do to improve the lives of the children in their country. Globally, almost 40 percent of children want to improve education and learning opportunities for other children, 24 percent want to increase security and safety and 14 percent of children want better access to food, shelter and clothing. The Small Voices, Big Dreams survey shows not only is there a lot of work to do globally but also that children are extremely perceptive of their own lives and the lives of others. We tend to overpower children with our “big voices” when it comes to assessing what they need to feel protected, but the first step is to start listening. To download the full report, visit The Christian Children's Fund of Canada. Image courtesy of FlickrCC/ann_jutatip
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The Small Voices, Big Dreams survey reveals children’s view on child rights

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