The fourth annual Small Voices, Big Dreams report once again reinforces the understanding children have of the world they live
in, and the value in adults taking the time to listen to what they say. This year’s survey focussed on child protection, with children asked to examine the issue of violence in their communities. Children were also asked to describe what makes them feel safe and happy.
It is clear from the results that the 6,499 children who participated are not cocooned from the effects of violence that exist in their respective countries. At just 10-12 years of age, they are aware of its causes and have considered views on how they would prevent violence in their communities.
In developing countries, children rank poverty, domestic abuse and social conflict highly as causes of violence. They also recognise how crucial education is to reducing violence, protecting children and achieving a better life. Children in developing countries are five times more likely to derive happiness and a sense of safety from schooling compared to their peers in developed countries. We get a sense of its importance from Pedro, 12, from Timor-Leste where 80% of children emphasise the importance of a good education.
“When the rain comes and floods, I cannot go to school,” Pedro says; “I feel sad because I have no chance to learn new lessons.” Consistent with this theme, children from developing countries are more likely to view their teachers as heroes than in the western world.
As you might expect, children in developed countries have suggested different causes of violence – largely drugs and alcohol. Erin, 10, from Australia says it causes domestic violence. “Many adults have too much alcohol and drugs and hurt or treat their families in a bad way,” she says.
Lisa, 12 from Taiwan has insight in terms of why: “Alcohol will disrupt people’s willpower and cause their emotions to go up and down.” Children in Ireland appeared to agree with Erin and Lisa, with almost 30% listing alcohol as the main cause of violence in this country
In developed countries, children’s top priority was being safe from crimes and violence, rather than education. While they see education as being important, they associate safety and happiness with equality and being among friends. In Ireland, there was a strong emphasis on home life, with Siofra (11, pictured below) among the 73% of Irish children who said they feel safest and happiest with their family.
See more of what children had to say about freedom and violence by viewing the Small Voices Big Dreams 2013 Report.