A global survey on the views of children on key issues has revealed that more than forty out of every 100 children believe that they are not sufficiently protected against violence in their countries, with girls expressing a higher perception of insecurity.
The Small Voices, Big Dreams survey, also reveals that only 18 out of 100 children think that politicians and the people who govern protect children from violence, whilst one in two children say adults in their countries do not listen to their opinions on issues that matter to them.
It says more than two-thirds of children (69 per cent) rejected violence as an educational tool, whilst nine in 10 children believe that the most important thing adults could do to end violence against children was to love children more and listen to what they have to say.
A total of 5,500 children between the ages of 10 to 12 years in 15 countries across the Americas, Europe, Africa and Asia took part in this year’s Small Voices, Big Dreams survey, whose findings were presented at a forum in Tamale attended by stakeholders including members of the security services, public institutions and the civil society.
A total of 520 children in the country (Ghana) were also interviewed as part of the survey.
The Small Voices, Big Dreams survey, is an annual initiative of the ChildFund Alliance, and it is one of the most comprehensive polls of children’s views in the world on socio-political issues facing their countries.
The report, which was presented by Mr William Anim-Dankwa, Communications Manager of Christian Children’s Fund of Canada (CCFC), called for far greater involvement of children in decision-making on issues affecting them, particularly the prevention of violence, and urged world leaders to listen to children and take action based on their recommendations.
Madam Meg Gardinier, Secretary General of ChildFund Alliance, who was quoted in a speech during the presentation of the survey in Tamale, said “Every year more than a billion children around the world experience violence and exploitation – that’s more than one in three. It’s a global scourge that cuts across borders, class, culture, ethnicity, race, gender, and socioeconomic status”.
She added “Yet rarely do decision-makers take into account the opinions, experiences, and expectations of children”.
She said “Today we are calling for children to be part of the decision-making process on issues that affect them. Children have so much to contribute toward global efforts to end violence against children, and the success of any policy or action aimed at children depends on our ability to engage and respond to their voices”.
Mr Patrick Canagasingham, Chief Executive Officer of CCFC, who was also quoted in a speech during the presentation of the report in Tamale, said “Sadly, no matter where they live, and no matter who they are, no child is immune to violence. In many parts of the world, violence against children is occurring at epidemic levels. We know that when children experience violence, whether it be physical, sexual, or emotional, it can have a catastrophic impact on their sense of self-worth, their cognitive development, and their ability to achieve their full potential”.
He said “That’s why we need to empower children to be part of the decision-making process. Children should be involved when it comes to developing any policy or action aimed at helping children”.
Mrs Theresa Banoba Baveng, Team Leader of CCFC, expressed need for all stakeholders to do their best to improve their relationship with children.