Threats to the well-being of children

Xiao Yan, a 12-year-old girl in Anhui province, China.

Overall, nearly two out of five children have tried smoking and more than one of four have tried drinking alcohol. There are significant differences between younger and older children, but only a relatively small gap between boys and girls. Incidence of smoking is highest in Indonesia, Mongolia and Papua New Guinea (PNG) (59%-66%) and lowest in Lao PDR, Thailand and Cambodia (less than 20%). Unlike smoking, more urban dwellers have tried alcohol with the highest incidence in Australia (54%) and Mongolia (45%), and lowest in Cambodia, East Timor, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar and Thailand.

Twenty percent of respondents reported knowing children their own age who are addicted to smoking, ranging from under 10 per cent in Macau, Cambodia and Lao PDR to 35 per cent in PNG and 50 per cent in Mongolia. The figures for alcohol addiction (7% overall) are much lower, varying from 18 per cent in PNG and 15 per cent in the Republic of Korea to three per cent in Cambodia, Macau, Malaysia, Myanmar and Viet Nam.

While the incidence of experimentation and perceived addiction to glue-sniffing, taking illegal drugs or abuse of prescription medicines is generally small, one or more of these practices was common in some countries. Twenty-five per cent of Australian children reported experimenting with illegal drugs, 17 per cent reported experimenting with glue-sniffing and 11 per cent reporting addiction to illegal drugs. In PNG, 25 percent have also experimented with illegal drugs, 10 per cent reporting addiction.

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

• Some of my friends have tried/have an addiction problem with... (total) [view]
• Some of my friends have tried/have an addiction problem with... (by country) [view]

Nearly 3 out of 5 respondents reported screaming in the home (mostly occasional) most commonly in Viet Nam (89%) and PNG (79%), and least commonly in Macau (30%). Overall, it is more common in rural areas.

Children play at the Otaki Reception Centre, Cambodia.

Around 29 per cent of respondents overall reported that people hit each other in the home, ranging from Singapore (14%), China (17%) and Mongolia (19%) to PNG (75%). Beating as punishment was reported by 23 per cent occurred most frequently among boys, younger children, and those in rural areas. This figure is highest in East Timor (53%), Cambodia (44%) and Myanmar (40%), and lowest in Australia (1%) and Mongolia (7%).

Only five per cent of the respondents felt unsafe in their own community during the day, although fewer felt safe in Cambodia (86%) and Mongolia (73%). At night, however, fewer children felt safe overall (71%), ranging from China and Myanmar (80%) to PNG and Cambodia (less than 50%). The perception of risk is higher among younger children and those living in urban areas.

About 1,000 children reported having been a victim of either robbery or assault (10% for each). The highest incidence of robbery is in Mongolia (39%), Philippines and Cambodia (27%), commonly reported in urban areas. Reported assault is very high in Cambodia (56%), experienced predominantly by boys.

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

• I have been a victim of... (by demographic) [view]
• I have been a victim of... (by country) [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