60% of children in Europe, Central Asia report aggression at home: UNICEF poll

60% of children in Europe, Central Asia report aggression at home: UNICEF poll

Six out of ten children in Europe and Central Asia say they face aggressive behaviour and violence - shouting and hitting - within their families, according to the just-released results of a poll funded by the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF).

In a statement issued today in Berlin, UNICEF said its "Young Voices" poll was based on face-to-face interviews with 15,200 children between the ages of 9 and 17, conducted between December 2000 and February 2001. The initial findings reflect the voices of over 93 million children from 35 countries, making it "the largest and most ambitious survey" ever taken among children in that region, the agency said.

According to UNICEF, the poll paints a portrait of the views, concerns, hopes and dreams of children and adolescents from 26 States in transition in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE), the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), the Baltic States and nine countries in Western Europe. It also reveals that young people see the world as marked by violence, injustice and discrimination.

The survey revealed that almost half of the children polled felt they did not have basic information on HIV/AIDS (65 per cent in the 9-13 age group, 27 per cent for 14-17 year olds), while 61 per cent thought their views were either not sufficiently taken into account or not considered at all by their local government.

"Children are not only our future, they are our present and we need to start taking their voices very seriously," said Carol Bellamy, Executive Director of UNICEF. "We must listen carefully to what young people have to say and give them every opportunity to speak. We must reach out to them and encourage them to participate in the decision-making processes that affect their lives."

The poll's findings were released on the first day of a high-level regional meeting in Berlin - "The Conference on Children in Europe and Central Asia" - to set a new regional agenda for children in the next decade, UNICEF said. Final results will be presented on the occasion of the first ever UN General Assembly special session on children, to be held in New York this September, where world leaders will forge a new global agenda for the younger generation.