UK children less likely to trust those in power to make good decisions – UNICEF

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20 November 2017 – Children in the UK feel more disenfranchised than their peers worldwide and are less likely to trust those in power to make good decisions for children, according to new research published by UNICEF to mark World Children’s Day.

The survey asked 11,000 children in 14 countries their views on issues important to them and whether they felt listened to. UK findings revealed:

  • Almost seven in ten children – some 68 percent – do not trust adults or world leaders to make good decisions for children, compared to 45 percent of children worldwide.
  • The majority of children – some 71 percent – felt that their opinion is not heard at all or does not help make change, compared to 50 percent of children across all 14 countries in the survey.
  • Only 14 percent of UK children feel that their opinion is appreciated by the government, compared to 34 percent across all 14 countries.

Only three countries – including Brazil – had children with higher levels of distrust of those in power than the UK.  Some 81 percent of children in Brazil do not trust adults and world leaders to make good decisions for children followed by South Africa with 69 per cent of children.

Likewise, only one country had children expressing higher levels of disenfranchisement than the UK. Some 73 percent of children in South Africa felt that their opinion is either not heard at all or does not help make change, compared to 71 percent in the UK.

Lily Caprani, Deputy Executive Director at UNICEF UK said:

“Children growing up in the UK have told us that they feel powerless to make their voices heard by decision-makers and that they do not trust those in power to make good decisions for them. This has to change.

“World Children’s Day marks the signing of the Convention of Children’s Rights, which saw the world’s leaders make a promise to every child. It says that children are entitled to be heard, to have an education, to survive and to thrive. Our leaders must renew their promises to the UK’s children. To listen to them and consult with them, so they can play an active part in decisions that affect them.”

The survey also looked at what children did outside school and their worries and concerns. UK children said they spend most of their time watching television (59 per cent while the least common activity was playing outside (28 per cent).  UK children said that they worried a lot about terrorism (47 percent), bullying (37 percent) and conflict and war (31 percent).

Unicef UK also announced today that is it launching a new programme to protect, promote and up-hold children’s rights in the UK; Child Friendly Cities & Communities. Unicef UK will be initially working with four UK cities including Aberdeen, Barnet (in London), Cardiff and Newcastle to  change the way local government works with and for children by putting children’s rights, needs and voices at the heart of city and community planning, policy and practice.

Lily Caprani continued:  “On World Children’s Day we are asking UK councils to reimagine their cities and communities from the perspective of the children and young people who live there. Putting children’s rights at the heart of council planning, policy and practice ensures that all children and young people, including the most vulnerable, are surrounded by effective, empowering and nurturing services.”


Notes for Editors

  • According to new analysis by UNICEF released on World Children’s Day, 180 million children worldwide, 1 in 12 children, face bleaker prospects than their parents. Across 37 countries they are more likely to live in extreme poverty, be out of school, or be killed by violent death than children living in those countries were 20 years ago.
  • UNICEF surveyed 1000 children in the UK between 9-18 years old between October 9 and October 20 2017. They were surveyed online. UNICEF also surveyed children in Brazil, India, Japan, Kenya, Malaysia, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Egypt, South Africa, Turkey and the United States.
  • Child Friendly Cities & Communities is a global programme. Launched in 1996 and active in 24 countries, the initiative supports cities and communities to put the human rights of children and young people at their heart, translating Unicef’s global mission into practical action at the local level.