Small Voices, Devastating Words

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Posted on 11/20/2014

For so many people in developed countries, rights — the right to clean water, to an identity, to be free from violence — are like breathing.

But what the ChildFund Alliance found in its fifth annual Small Voices, Big Dreams survey takes the breath away: An astonishing one in three children surveyed believes that adults are failing in their duty to protect them from violence, shield them from dangerous labor and enable them to continue their education.

Ten-year-old Dien, from Vietnam, has seen it firsthand. “I think children in my country are not totally protected from child kidnapping,” she says. “I saw a case of child kidnapping in my village. A girl was caught by a very scary man. She cried a lot but nobody cared.”


SVBD Case study, Dien, age 10 from Vietnam

Dien was among the 6,040 children surveyed as part of Small Voices, Big Dreams, a global poll of children ages 10 to 12 in 44 countries across Asia, Africa, Europe and the Americas. This year’s survey coincides with the 25th anniversary of the United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), the world’s most widely ratified human rights treaty, which also serves as the survey’s focus.

In 2014’s Small Voices, Big Dreams, children themselves tell us how much more needs to change before they can fully experience the rights that the CRC says are theirs.

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

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

Ramatoulie, 11, from The Gambia, speaks for them all: “Give the children a chance for their voices to be heard.”

At the heart of the matter, what children are asking for is respect.

  • The Data Report

    In English: Small Voices, Big Dreams 2014

    In Spanish: Pequeñas Voces, Grandes Sueños 2014


    Sign ChildFund Alliance’s petition calling upon world leaders to make sure keeping children free from violence is among the priorities that will drive the global fight against poverty over the next 15 years.