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Small Voices, Big Dreams 2012

Children want a better world, and they have specific views about what that means, according to the ChildFund 2012 Small Voices, Big Dreams survey, rolling out in time to honor Universal Children's Day Nov. 20.

This year, we interviewed 6,200 10- to 12-year-olds in 47 countries, double the number we heard from in the 2010 launch of the survey. For 2012, we retained some of the questions from before and added some new ones with an environmental focus.

The 2012 results echoed 2011's finding that 50 percent of the children from developing nations say they would improve education if given the power. They also aspire to professions that would serve their communities such as teacher, doctor and police officer, whereas children from developed nations dream of careers in sports and the arts. When asked about their fears, children almost everywhere said they were afraid of wild animals.

The answers to the environmental questions highlighted common ground among children from both the developing and developed worlds. When asked their greatest worries about the environment, 29 percent listed pollution. Children in developing countries also cited an additional concern: natural disasters.

Eleven-year-old Luis, from Guatemala, lists earthquake, rain and drought as his greatest fears. He's experienced all three, as well as landslides, forest fires and storms. He wants to be an accountant, which will hopefully balance some of the excitement he's already endured in his short life.

Read the report to hear more from Luis and many other children from around the globe. We have much to learn from them.

The biggest problem in the environment within my community is the trash, so if I could do one thing to help, it would be to clean up all the trash and the rivers to make for a cleaner and safer life for my community.

— Luis, Guatemala

The things I fear the most are war and poverty. When there is war, there will be no freedom, no education, no food, no medicines and no good drinking water. When you are poor, you do not have enough food to eat, no clothes to wear and no money to support the family.

— Ibrahima, Guinea

If I were a leader of the country, I would help the poor to have a better life and educate immoral and abusive people to be good ones.

— Panchma, Cambodia
Image of infographic, see text version below

Text version

If you were president or leader of your country, what is the one thing you would do to improve the lives of children in your country?
Bar graph showing the top answers given by children from developing and developed countries:

  1. Improve education, provide enrichment opportunities: 50 percent in developing countries chose this answer, compared to 24 percent of children in developed countries.
  2. Provide for basic needs, food, clothing, shelter: 22 percent in developing countries gave this response, compared to 25 percent in developed countries.
  3. Address poverty, inequality and create more jobs: 13 percent in developing countries chose this answer, compared to 17 percent in developed countries.

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