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What 10-12-Year-Olds Really Think

Findings from the fourth annual Small Voices, Big Dreams survey, commissioned by the ChildFund Alliance, uncovered the unique views of today’s 10-12-year-olds. Their ideas on violence, peace, heroes and happiness were explored in a survey that included nearly 6,500 children from 47 countries (36 developing; 11 developed), including 202 Australians.

Children on Violence
Globally, bad behaviour (disobedience, laziness, greed, lying) was identified as the main cause of violence, followed by poverty, alcohol, drugs and social conflict.

Children in developed countries reported bad behaviour as the main cause of violence, while more often, children in Asia and Africa said poverty was to blame. Drugs and guns were the most common causes of violence reported by children from the USA. Social conflict was the top cause reported in Kenya and Ghana. Seventy percent of Afghani children surveyed said war and fighting were the main cause of violence. Alcohol was the top response given by Australian and New Zealand children

Erin, 10, from Australia, represented nearly half of the Australians surveyed when she said alcohol causes violence, and is linked  to domestic violence: “Many adults have too much alcohol and drugs and hurt or treat their families in a bad way. I think we could stop this by limiting the amount of alcohol adults drink and buy.”

And if children were leaders in their countries, what would they do to stop violence against children?

Globally, children prioritised the following three solutions:
 - 30% would  increase law and order
 - 12% said improved education is the key
 - 12% would take steps to guarantee children’s personal safety

Interestingly, building schools was barely mentioned by children in developed countries, but was among the top priorities for children in Afghanistan and The Gambia. And while banning guns was a top priority for American and Canadian children, it was not rated at all by children in Africa or Asia.

Children on Peace
No war” is what children around the globe are most likely to say when asked to define what peace means to them.

'Peace means happiness' was a popular answer for children in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Ghana and Vietnam.

Love is the most popular understanding of peace for children in Ethiopia, also ranking highly in Laos and Kenya. Tith, 12, from Laos, said: “It’s the solidarity, love and knowing how to take care of the earth.”

Over a quarter of the Australian children surveyed said peace meant ‘the absence of violence’ – a trend noted in other developing countries.

Children on Heroes
Children globally say Mum is their biggest hero. Sebastian, 11, from Ecuador, said: “My hero is my mum because she teaches me to be persistent, honest, responsible and punctual…” In Australia, one-quarter of children (26%) said Mum is their hero, followed by Dad (15%).

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