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Adults not protecting us from hurt, mistreatment, dangerous labor say one-third of world’s children

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Contact: Betsy Edwards

Cameron McPherson


Adults not protecting us from hurt, mistreatment, dangerous labor say one-third of world’s children

RICHMOND, Va. (Nov. 20, 2014) – Twenty-five years after world governments ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child, a seminal, multinational agreement that set out basic protections for the globe’s children, a crescendo of children’s voices – an astonishing one in three children around the world – today say that adults are failing in their duty to protect them from violence, shield them from dangerous labor and enable them to continue their education.

“Child rights mean that children are allowed to be children, that they have the right to education, that they are not exposed to violence, that they can be happy and feel secure,” said Farah, an 11-year-old German girl and one of the 6,040 children surveyed as part of the fifth annual Small Voices, Big Dreams survey, a global poll of children ages 10 to 12 in 44 countries across Asia, Africa, Europe and the Americas.

The survey, conducted by ChildFund Alliance, exposes stark differences in child protection between developing and developed countries. While almost three-fifths (57%) of children in developed countries say that they are always or often protected from violence, only one-third (33%) of children in developing countries say that is the case. More than half the children in Honduras (60%), Bolivia (56%), the Philippines (55%), Cambodia (52%), Cape Verde (52%) and Brazil (51%) say their rights to protection are not being upheld.

“There are children being raped and getting pregnant,” said Elkin, an 11-year-old boy from Honduras. “There is no right to protection because gangs in our country violate those rights.”

Across the globe in war-torn Afghanistan, 12-year-old Sahar said, “Children are not protected because many children die in suicide bombs, and many children are doing heavy work in workshops and brick factories, which harms their health.”

Widespread concerns over dangerous forced child labor also punctuated the survey results. Only 30 percent of children in developing countries say that they are always or often protected from doing harmful work. “Here, children are involved in sand mining, so they are not protected, because a lot of them suffer from coughing as a result of sand mining,” said Lovewell, a 12-year-old boy from Zambia.

Nearly two in five (39%) of the children in developing countries surveyed also said they were being denied the right to develop, which includes access to education. “The right to education is not upheld in my country because some parents do not enroll their children in school,” said 10-year-old Catherine from the African nation of Burkina Faso, where 70 percent of children say they are being denied schooling.

“A quarter century ago, leaders across the globe made a commitment to the world’s children, that we would help them reach their full potential by protecting, educating and nurturing them. While much progress has been made, it is abundantly clear that we still have a long way to go. Harming even one child is one child too many,” said Anne Lynam Goddard, president and CEO of U.S.-based ChildFund International. “This survey, taken from the mouths of children themselves, provides compelling insight into their lives, and the poorest among them are raising their voices, asking that we do more to protect them.”

“Give the children a chance for their voices to be heard,” said Ramatoulie, 11, of The Gambia.

The yearly poll, one of the most comprehensive surveys of children’s views in the world, is conducted in the field by ChildFund Alliance, a network of 12 international development organizations whose work reaches more than 16 million children in 58 countries.

ChildFund International and its partners in ChildFund Alliance have launched a program called Free From Violence, a petition campaign calling on world leaders to include violence and the exploitation of children as a global priority moving forward.

For a copy of the 2014 Summary Data Report as well as other materials related to the Small Voices, Big Dreams survey, and to sign the Free From Violence petition, visit



Burkina Faso Bolivia Afghanistan Australia
Cape Verde Brazil Cambodia Canada
Ethiopia Dominica & St Vincent India France
Ghana Ecuador Indonesia Germany
Guinea Guatemala Laos Ireland
Kenya Honduras Nepal Japan
Liberia Mexico Philippines Korea
Mali Nicaragua Sri Lanka New Zealand
Mozambique Paraguay Timor-Leste Sweden
Senegal   Vietnam USA
Sierra Leone
The Gambia


About the Small Voices, Big Dreams Survey

The Small Voices, Big Dreams survey was undertaken by ChildFund Alliance during May-July 2014. The survey was conducted in 44 countries with children aged 10 to 12. This included 34 developing nations in Africa, Asia and the Americas as well as 10 developed countries. A total of 6,040 children were surveyed – 3,635 children in developing countries and 2,405 children in developed nations.

Three of the six questions were open-ended, meaning the children were not given a list of answers to choose from. The three remaining questions were multiple response answers. All translated responses were provided to GfK, a global research company, which processed the data. Code frames were developed by GfK Roper’s global research team and approved by ChildFund. The data was then compiled, coded and tabulated by GfK Roper.

About ChildFund International

ChildFund International is a global child development and protection agency serving more than 18.2 million children and family members in 30 countries. For 75 years, we have helped the world's deprived, excluded and vulnerable children survive and thrive to reach their full potential and become leaders of enduring change. As a member of ChildFund Alliance, we create supportive environments in which children can flourish. For more information about ChildFund visit

About ChildFund Alliance

ChildFund Alliance is a worldwide network of 12 international development organizations providing assistance to more than 16 million children and their families in 58 countries. With a focus on child-centred development programs, ChildFund Alliance dedicates over $503 million USD annually to its work with deprived, excluded and vulnerable children. These programs seek to bring positive outcomes for children in every stage of their lives, from infancy to adulthood. ChildFund also responds to humanitarian emergencies and natural disasters with precise focus on the special needs of children in the midst of crisis.

About GfK Roper

GfK is one of the world’s largest research companies, with more than 11,000 experts working to discover new insights about the way people live, think and shop, in over 100 markets, every day. GfK Roper Public Affairs & Corporate Communications is a division of GfK. The group specializes in customized public affairs and public opinion polling, media and corporate communications research, and reputation measurement in the U.S. and globally. The division also serves as the official polling partner of the Associated Press, conducting the AP-GfK Poll (