Adults, unfortunately, don't often listen to children. And, also unfortunately, when they do, they aren't always great listeners. It's a shame, because what children can tell us is incredibly valuable.
Last week, ChildFund released its annual survey of 6,204 children from around the world. Small Voices, Big Dreams polled children aged 10 to 12 years in 47 countries. The survey was commissioned by the ChildFund Alliance and the Christian Children's Fund of Canada and conducted in June and July. The group didn't do a simple tick-box survey. They asked kids six questions and documented their responses.
Not surprising, children in impoverished, war-torn countries were concerned about war. Young Achiatou, 12, said simply, "I am afraid of war, and I would like to ask to our parents to stop doing war, as war destroys children's futures."
The children surveyed showed tremendous compassion, wisdom and, in many cases, optimism.
One Afghan child, Zabihullah, said, "I am afraid of child kidnapping. If I was president I would provide programs about child rights."
Perhaps, not surprisingly, when asked about their aspirations, children in developed countries want to make their mark by becoming professional athletes or entertainers, while children in developing countries want to change their world by working in health care or education.
But what is perhaps most interesting was an almost universal interest in the environmental future of the world. According to ChildFund's secretary-general, Jim Emerson: "Consistently, children want to protect their world. Their greatest environmental concern is pollution. They want to enhance their communities by planting trees and creating more parks, and they take a strong stand against litter and rubbish."
Indeed, we should stop and truly listen to the children.
© Copyright 2013