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Kiwi kids see danger in the ‘everyday’

Friday 20 November 2015 – International Children’s Day

Kiwi kids see danger in the ‘everyday’: Internet, home and school

Global survey gives troubling insights into where children believe they are at risk; young Kiwis feel among the most vulnerable in the developed world, especially using the Internet.

A staggering 80 per cent of Kiwi kids believe they are at risk of abuse or mistreatment online – one of the highest proportions in the developed world.

The finding emerged from ChildFund Alliance’s sixth annual Small Voices, Big Dreams survey, one of the world’s most comprehensive polls of children’s views.

This year 661 young Kiwis were among the 5,805 ten- to twelve-year-olds who shared their thoughts on keeping children safe from harm in support of ChildFund Alliance’s Free from Violence and Exploitation campaign.

The survey asked where children believed they may be at risk of physical or emotional abuse or mistreatment, giving several multi-choice options.

The most popular response among young New Zealanders was ‘online’, selected by four out of five respondents (80 per cent) – the fourth highest proportion out of the 44 countries ChildFund surveyed.

The only places where a higher percentage of children saw the Internet as unsafe were Sweden (84%), Australia (85%) and France (87%).

“It’s an astonishing figure; our kids are all too aware of the dangers on the Web,” says ChildFund New Zealand Chief Executive Paul Brown.

“The Internet’s become a part of many children’s daily lives, and in many cases they’re required to use tablets and apps to complete school work, but it’s not necessarily an environment they feel safe navigating.”

Brown says that while it’s reassuring that children are aware of the very real risks of being online, the finding also highlights how important it is to ask questions and listen to our children in order to better protect them.

“By involving children in these sometimes difficult conversations, we as parents and caregivers can take the necessary action to make the world a safer place for them.”

A similar proportion of New Zealand children are also wary of the dangers of walking alone (81%).

Home is where the hurt is, according to half of Kiwi kids

While parents and caregivers may take comfort in knowing that young Kiwis are aware of online dangers, some may be surprised to learn that half also identified ‘home’ as a place where children may be at risk of abuse or mistreatment.

The proportion was higher than for children globally (42 per cent) and significantly higher than the overall proportion for children in developed countries (28 per cent).

“This raises some serious red flags,” says Brown. “We expect home to be a haven; the one place we’re guaranteed safety and protection. To think that half of Kiwi kids believe a home has the potential to be the opposite for children – a place of danger – is heart-breaking.”

When asked why adults mistreat children, 67 per cent of young New Zealanders answered ‘punishment’, and 52 per cent selected ‘because they were victims of abuse themselves’.

The survey also asked children what they thought adults could do to protect children from harm: the majority said it was as simple as listening to what children have to say.

“That’s really what ChildFund and Small Voices, Big Dreams are about – giving young people a voice,” says Brown.

“Whether we’re listening to a child in Africa whose basic needs for survival aren’t being met, or a Kiwi kid feeling threatened by cyberbullies; the suffering and struggles of all children are important to us. It’s about genuinely listening to them and acting upon their suggestions.”

ChildFund’s Free from Violence and Exploitation campaign, of which the survey feeds into, recently celebrated a major breakthrough when world leaders set targets for eliminating child harm as part of the new UN Global Goals for Sustainable Development.

ChildFund had campaigned for the move since 2012, submitting a petition signed by more than 680,000 people along with reports featuring the voices and views of children worldwide.

The Free from Violence and Exploitation campaign is far from over, with ChildFund Alliance planning to create child-led groups that will hold their own countries accountable for meeting the Global Goals, ensuring child protection remains a priority for everyone.

Where are children at risk?
• Globally, more than half of children (58%) believe they are at risk walking alone. This was followed by being at home (42%) or school (42%), with friends (30%) and online (28%).
• New Zealand children identified walking alone (81%) and being online (80%) as risky activities, followed by being at school (52%), at home (50%) and with friends (32%).
• Danish children selected far fewer places overall than children elsewhere in the world, with only half seeing danger in walking alone, 37% selecting online, 10% at home and 8% at school.
Why do adults mistreat children?
• Globally, the most popular response was ‘because adults have power’ (38%), followed by ‘punishment’ (35%).
• In New Zealand, children thought ‘punishment’ was the main reason (67%), followed by ‘because they were victims of abuse themselves’ (52%).
What can children do to protect each other?
• Globally, around two out of five children would take direct action to protect another child, such as telling a teacher or caregiver or calling the police. This was similar regardless of whether the child needing protection was of the opposite (43%) or same gender (42%).
• Notably, New Zealand children were less likely than those from other nations to ‘tell a teacher or caregiver’ (13% when thinking about protecting a child of the opposite gender, and 14% for a child of the same gender). Only 8% of Kiwi boys would tell an adult to help a male peer.
• Compared to global figures for taking direct action to intervene, Kiwi boys were twice as likely (34%) and Kiwi girls were three times as likely (33%) to stand up for a child of the opposite gender from themselves.
If I were leader…
• As leaders of their country, most children (42%) globally would use legal means to tackle child abuse and mistreatment, namely sending abusers to prison (24%) and passing or strengthening laws (18%).
• In New Zealand a similar proportion (36%) felt the law was the most useful tool. Some also chose safety measures (22%) like setting up safe houses and increasing police presence.
What can adults do to protect children?
• Globally, the most popular response was to ‘love children more’ (26%).
• In New Zealand most children said ‘listen to what children have to say’ (25%).
To download the full report, visit www.childfund.org.nz or contact ChildFund for more information and NZ-specific statistics.


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