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A displaced boy stretches out where he lives in the open air in the village of Aburoc, South Sudan, on May 10, 2017. Waves of conflict have displaced many of the Shilluk population in Upper Nile multiple times.
Phil Hatcher-Moore/UNICEF

Children Are Deeply Concerned About Global Issues, But Don’t Think Their Voices Matter, Survey Finds

Most parents hope their child will have all the opportunities they did not. They hope their children’s futures will be brighter than theirs.

But for many children around the world, these dreams may not become realities. In a recent analysis, UNICEF found that one in 12 children live in countries “where their prospects today are worse than those of their parents.”

These children — about 180 million across 37 different countries — are more likely to be living in conditions of extreme poverty or conflict and be out of school than their parents were two decades ago, UNICEF reported.

Take Action: 263 million children worldwide are missing out on school. Ask governments to increase the funding for global education.

According to the World Bank, the 1990 global extreme poverty rate has been more than cut in half, yet the number of people living under the extreme poverty line of $1.90 per day has risen in countries like Nigeria, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

And after surveying over 11,000 children between the ages of 9 and 18 from 14 different countries — including Brazil, India, Kenya, the US, and New Zealand — UNICEF found that many children are aware their futures many not hold all the promise their parents had hoped for.

The survey, which measured children’s attitudes about global issues, found that many children are “deeply concerned” about issues like climate change, violent conflict, terrorism, poverty, and the world’s treatment of refugees.

In fact, approximately 40% of the children surveyed said they “worry a lot about the unfair treatment of refugee and migrant children.” About 55% of Mexican children worried that unfair treatment of refugees and migrants would affect them personally.

Read more: Trump’s Refugee Ban Expires – But There's More Bad News for World’s Most Vulnerable

Though more than half of Mexican children said they were concerned about the treatment of migrants, 74% said they worried about violence against children — a top concern for children in Brazil and Nigeria as well, the survey found.

The survey’s results are disheartening.

While children across all the countries surveyed said they want world leaders to tackle poverty, poor education, and terrorism, half said they feel disenfranchised by the decisions that affect children, which world leaders and politicians have made. 

Children in South Africa and the UK are reportedly the most doubtful about their ability to influence decision makers. More than 70% of the children surveyed in both countries reported “feeling that their voices are not heard at all or [that] their opinions do not make a change anyway.”

“While the last generation has seen vast, unprecedented gains in living standards for most of the world's children, the fact that a forgotten minority of children have been excluded from this – through no fault of their own or those of their families – is a travesty” UNICEF’s Director of Data, Research and Policy, Laurence Chandy, said in a press release on Monday.

Read more: 1 in 5 Children Live in Extreme Poverty: World Bank Report

UNICEF’s findings show that though there has been great progress in many places around the world, there is still much to be done to ensure that children everywhere are safe and have equal access to opportunities like quality education.

Global Citizen campaigns to support the rights of children everywhere. You can take action here to help make education for all children a reality.