Information, knowledge and life skills

Information
School girls on the island of Java, Indonesia.

Of the six topics in this question, respondents said they knew the most (answering "a lot" or "some") about basic hygiene (78%) and the environment (72%). Older children and those in urban areas displayed greater knowledge.

Those in Australia and Viet Nam (79%) showed the highest average knowledge levels (answering "a lot" or "some") and Lao PDR (55%) and East Timor (51%) the lowest (answering "none" or "name only").

Click below to view the responses to the questions related to this issue:

• I know a lot about... (total) [view]

HIV/AIDS

The areas of greatest ignorance are sexual relations (54%), HIV/AIDS (44%) and the danger of drugs (42%) - a potentially explosive combination. Understandably, older children know more (47%) than younger ones (22%), as do urban dwellers (45%) than their rural counterparts (25%). Countries where children have the greatest knowledge of these three topics include Australia (71%) and Viet Nam (70%), the lowest are East Timor (94%), Lao PDR (70%) and Indonesia (60%).

Of those who know about HIV/AIDS, 68% identified unprotected sex as a means of transmission, 49% identified shared needles among intravenous drug users, and 20% identified infection of a child before or during birth by its HIV-positive mother. Children in Cambodia, Lao PDR, Papua New Guinea (PNG), Thailand and Viet Nam were the most aware of unprotected sex as a means of HIV transmission.

Excluding East Timor and Macau, the lowest percentages of knowledge on HIV/AIDS were found among children in China (39%), Myanmar (42%) and ROK (24%) with little difference between the sexes or urban and rural areas. Knowledge of the risk of sharing needles is highest in Cambodia and Lao PDR (81%) and Viet Nam (74%), in contrast to only 10 per cent in ROK, followed by Mongolia (29%) and China (33%) .

UNICEF/HQ97-0255/ JEREMY HORNER
In China, these girls sit on the floor around a large poster, drawing lines to connect groups at risk of contracting HIV/AIDS as part of an AIDS education project.

Despite the relatively high proportion of children having accurate knowledge about channels of HIV transmission, there is also a lot of misinformation. For example, 10 per cent of respondents in Thailand said that HIV could be contracted by touching an infected person and in Malaysia (15%), PNG (15%) and China (10%) that mosquitoes could transmit the disease. In response to the question about how to tell if someone is HIV-positive only 28 per cent overall gave the only correct response: through a blood test, while other answers included "spots on skin", "has very dark or black skin" and "is very thin".

Sixty per cent of respondents said they knew what a condom is, but variations among countries is enormous, ranging from four per cent in East Timor; to 100 per cent in Australia. Knowledge of condoms was also high in Cambodia, Hong Kong, Macau, Malaysia, PNG and Singapore, all with more than 80 per cent. Knowledge of condoms was considerably higher among boys and in urban areas.

Very few (6%) of all respondents claimed to have used a condom, with much higher figures for Australia (29%) and PNG (21%). Less than half of the eligible respondents believed they could get a condom if they wanted to, with boys were more likely than girls to say they could obtain a condom. Low percentages in Indonesia (10%) and ROK (15%) said they could as compared with more than 80 per cent in Australia and Cambodia.

Click below to view the responses to the questions related to this issue:

• HIV/AIDS is transmitted through... (total responses of 3,484 14 to 17-year-olds aware of HIV/AIDS) [view]
• HIV/AIDS is transmitted through... (by country of 3,484 14 to 17-year-olds aware of HIV/AIDS) [view]
• I know that a person is HIV positive if he/she... (total of 3,484 14 to 17-year-olds aware of HIV/AIDS) [view]
• I know that a person is HIV positive if he/she... (by country of 3,484 14 to 17-year-olds aware of HIV/AIDS) [view]

• Condoms: I know what it is... (total of 4,605 14 to 17-year-olds aware of HIV/AIDS) [view]
• Condoms: I have used, I can buy... (total of 2,786 14 to 17-year-olds aware of HIV/AIDS and knowing what a condom is) [view]
• Condoms:I know what it is, I have used, I can buy... (by country of 2,786 14 to 17-year-olds aware of HIV/AIDS and knowing what a condom is) [view]

This information is provided as a contribution to discussion on important issues affecting children. UNICEF Regional offices conducted the polls, analysis and interpretations of the findings. For more information, please contact the regional poll contact person directly.

About the survey
Feelings of well-being and outlook on life
Children and their rights
Information, knowledge and life skills
Threats to the well-being of children
Participation, communication and decision-making
Values, aspirations and expectations