The Right To Grow Up In Conditions Of Physical, Mental And Spiritual Health

"Everything we have today is as a result of someone's dream.”
- Stephanie, age 17, Costa Rica.

The right to have a family
A football practice in Salvador, Brazil.

The family is experiencing a process of change within its basic nucleus. There is a high rate (one in four) of absence of the father figure, and 7% of respondents live with neither a biological father or mother, a condition most prevalent in the Caribbean (12%).

One in five young children and adolescents (22% of total sample) live only with their mother, with the highest incidence in Brazil (26%) and the Caribbean (24%). While present in all the segments, the occurrence increases as income goes down, for inhabitants of urban areas, females, adolescents and blacks.

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

• I live with…(total) [view]
• I live with…(by region) [view]


Prevalence of feelings of happiness

A third of respondents indicate that they experience feelings of happiness infrequently - 27 per cent say they feel happy only on some occasions and 5 per cent say they never or almost never feel happy. This increases within the segments having less income, with black or indigenous racial background, those who work for pay, and adolescents (who say the family is their main source of feelings of happiness or unhappiness.)

Low frequency of feelings of happiness are found most often in the Caribbean (51%). Haiti had the highest percentage of children (79%) declaring themselves feeling happy only on some occasions or almost never or never, followed by Brazil (33%), and the Andean zone (30%) (where Peru (39%) and Bolivia (41%) rank the highest).

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

• I feel happy…(total) [view]


Main personal concerns

Children were asked to spontaneously mention situations which most provoke concern. Those most frequently cited are associated with the family, divided into when something bad happens in it (27%) and when there are fights or family quarrels (15%).

School performance (25%) is another situation, with the highest levels of concern being reported in Central America (43%) and the Southern Cone (37%), as well as by those of white/mixed blood origin and by younger children (13 years old and under).

Worries over the economic situation or lack of money was mentioned by 18% of respondents, with a higher incidence from children of the Southern Cone (25%), those in lower income segments and children who work.

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

• The situations which personally worry me the most are…(total) [view]


Influence of support on learning positive values and good behaviour
A girl and her grandmother, in Havana, Cuba.

Positive emotional and social support is essential to learn how to behave properly. When children were asked what happens when they exhibit positive behaviour or accomplish a notable task, their responses indicated that most (61%) are congratulated and/or cuddled, and some (20%) are rewarded (particularly those under 13, of white/mixed blood race, and who come from higher income families.)

According to 18%, they do not receive any type of positive reinforcement, i.e., "no one says anything." This is higher in Mexico and Brazil (20%), and among lower income earning segments and adolescents (21%).

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

• When I behave well my parents…(total) [view]


The right to express one's opinion

Half the sample (representing a universe close to 50 million) say they have difficulties expressing their opinions at home and in school.

They cite not having any opportunities to talk or be heard in the home when they are scolded or when they are not at fault (47%). This figure is higher among the lower income earning segments, blacks and children who work for pay. They react by isolating themselves, emotional reactions of rage and emotion, and briefly leaving the home.

When in school, they indicate having difficulties in putting forth their problems and needs (45%), a condition more pronounced among rural inhabitants, lower income segments, males and blacks. This situation is found to be linked with the perceived quality of personal relationships with teachers and school mates and, to a lesser extent, with the existence of formal channels of communication.

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

• In my house, when I am scolded and it is not my fault…(total) [view]
• In my house, after scolding me and not letting me speak…(total) [view]
• To try to talk about problems in my school is…(total) [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 poll
Children's awareness of their rights
Physical, mental and spiritual health
Violence at home
Access to information
Well-being and development