childfund logo
One in three children globally say we are failing in our duty to protect them
Nov 20, 2014

Dublin, Ireland: One-third of children (32 per cent) globally say that children’s rights to protection are not being met, according to a survey of over 6,000 children by ChildFund Alliance.

Jack from Ireland age 12


The international study also found that one in five children globally (19 per cent) say that children in their country are never or rarely protected from physical or psychological abuse.

One in five children surveyed globally (20 per cent) 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 per cent) than children in developed countries (eight per cent).

The fifth annual Small Voices Big Dreams Survey, undertaken by ChildFund Alliance, 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.

“More than two decades on from world governments ratifying the Convention on the Rights of the Child, it is evident that far too many children are still not being protected from the worst excesses of violence and exploitation. Children’s views reflect this distressing fact,” said Michael Kiely, CEO of ChildFund Ireland.

The poll found some marked differences in responses between children in developing countries and their peers in the developed world. When asked which rights for 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 per cent), which was cited by only four per cent of children in developed countries. However, children in both developed and developing countries are equally concerned about the lack of protection from abuse, violence and murder (15 per cent).

When asked how well children in their country are protected from being hurt or mistreated, more than half (57 per cent) of children in developed countries said children are always or often protected, compared with a third (33 per cent) of children 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 per cent of children in developed countries responded always or often, compared with only 30 per cent of children in developing countries.

Michael Kiely said that children in countries such as Burkina Faso (70 per cent) and Guatemala (48 per cent) are more likely to identify access to school and study as a right than children in developed countries such as Canada and Germany (two per cent).

“Children in developing countries put a much greater value on education because it offers a way out of extreme poverty. 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 children were asked how they would improve children’s lives in their country if they were leader, almost 40 per cent of children worldwide say they would focus on education and learning opportunities for other children.

“Children are clearly concerned about similar rights with some unsurprising differences across regions,” said Michael Kiely.

“Most disturbing is the worldwide concern that all children 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 with urgency.”

You can read the full report here: Small Voices Big Dreams 2014

Stay tuned to ChildFund Ireland’s Facebook and Twitter pages for further updates and support the campaign by ‘liking’, ‘favouring’ or ‘re-tweeting’ our posts to your friends and family using  the hashtags #smallvoices and #freefromviolence. Together we can help spread the message that Children’s voices matter.

please support our work for
disadvantaged children today

how you can help