Children are not only our future, they are our present and we need
to start taking their voices very seriously. We must listen carefully
to what young people have to say and give them every opportunity
to speak. We must reach out to them and encourage them to participate
in the decision-making processes that affect their lives.
Carol Bellamy, Executive Director of UNICEF
Does the adult world really know what children think? Do the decision-makers
have any idea of children's hopes, ambitions or concerns? And if
they did, would they use this knowledge to tailor services at home,
school and in the community to better reflect children's real needs
The Convention on the
Rights of the Child, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly
in 1989 and now the most widely ratified international treaty, says
that children have the right to express themselves freely. This
is itself a major breakthrough. The Convention then goes on to say
that adults must take the views of children and adolescents into
account when making decisions that affect them.
The implications of the Convention are immense, if adults take
their responsibility seriously - as individuals, parents, governments,
civil society groups, the private sector and international agencies.
UNICEF is convinced that the world would be a far better place if
children's views were seriously and systematically taken into consideration,
if children's participation as citizens and bearers of rights was
encouraged and empowered.
The first step is to find out children's views and insight into
a wide range of important topics - which is what UNICEF has attempted
to do with these opinion polls.
Some of what the children say will make adults uncomfortable. They
speak eloquently and painfully about violence and injustice, about
discrimination and not being heard. But they do also tell of many
positive things: how much they appreciate love and support, how
hopeful they are about the future and how, despite current difficulties,
they very much want to contribute to building a better world for
More about the surveys
and why the polls were conducted
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 contact person directly.
For more information on the East Asia and Pacific Survey, contact
Mark Thomas, Regional
Office for East Asia and the Pacific.
For more information on the Europe and Central Asia Survey, contact
Robert Cohen, Regional
Office for Central and Eastern Europe, Comm. Of Ind. States and
For more information on the Latin America and the Carribean Survey,
contact Gladys Acosta or
Maria Jesus Conde, Regional
Office for the Americas and the Caribbean.