The Right To Participate

Participation in organised groups
Children from the Ashaninka indigenous group stand inside their school in Junin, Peru.

More than half the children (52%) indicate that they belong to some organised peer group, with those living in the Caribbean reporting the highest participation in groups (70%). Mexico, Andean countries, and the Southern Cone have the highest figures for those who say they don't belong to any organised peer group.

Of the 31% who say they participate in a sports group, the highest participation is among those in rural areas, high and middle socio-economic status, males and blacks. 16% of the children surveyed report belonging to some religious group and half that number to an artistic group, such as music or theatre.

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• I belong to a…group (total) [view]


Situations of concern among peer groups

The issues of greatest interest and concern within peer groups include school studies and gaining university entrance (32%) reported the most in Andean countries, Central America and Mexico; delinquency and security (21%), mostly in Brazil, the Southern Cone and Central America; and drug addiction and alcoholism (15%), particularly in Brazil. Other concerns making up less than 10% included family problems, friendships, and unemployment.

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• Among my friends/peers, what most concerns us is… [view]


Perceptions of leaders

When asked "which person or character do you admire most?," it is notable that more than 1 in 4 (27%) respondent do not mention any leaders, a result which is more pronounced in the Caribbean (46%) and Mexico (40%). Across the segments, this is reported in higher numbers among the higher income levels, children living in rural areas, and black children.

Among the leaders mentioned were a friend or classmate (20%) who was supportive, intelligent, forceful and sociable; notable sports figures (8%) who were admired for their good performance and being supportive, and musical groups/singers (8%) because they do what they do well ("they are good").

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• In my group of friends, we admire… (total) [view]


Relations of young children/adolescents with adults and social institutions

The respondents were asked how important they feel in relation to adults and selected social institutions. They feel important to some adults like their mothers, fathers, teachers and the church where, on a three point scale, they reach an average of over 2.5 points.

When asked about government institutions, however, the perception of their importance decreases, reaching general averages of 2.0 points, with adolescents being the group that perceives themselves as being the least relevant.

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• I feel important to… (total) [view]


Level of credibility and trust in adults and social institutions
A mother and her baby in Almolonga, Guatemala.

The figures most trusted by young children and adolescents are the mother (94%) and the father (90%), followed closely by the Church (85%). Teachers are trustworthy (79%), but their credibility decreases among adolescents (64%) and children from low socio-economic status (68%).

Less than a third of those surveyed trust government institutions and their representatives, with the least amount of trust being reported from Brazil and the Southern Cone, and by adolescents, urban inhabitants, members of higher income groups, and those of white/mixed and black races.

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• I trust… (total) [view]


What young children / adolescents would ask of adults and social institutions

The respondents said they would ask adults for more space, respect, better treatment and care. They would petition the Church for more support, attention and solidarity for the poor and people in general, and government institutions would be asked to be more efficient in their work, to fulfil their promises, to eliminate corruption, for more space and concern for children / adolescents, and for more resources for recreation and help for the needy.

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• I would ask of adults… (total) [view]
• I would ask of the church… (total) [view]
• I would ask of the government… (total) [view]


If I were President of the Republic…

When asked what the first thing they would do if they were President, respondents first expressed solidarity towards the most needy, particularly the poor and unemployed. This was followed by concern for the security of citizens and the interests of children. To help the children of their country, respondents said they would legislate in the areas of education, citizen security, child maltreatment, drug addiction, the right to have a home, and respect for children's rights.

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• If I were President… (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