KUALA LUMPUR: Seven out of 10 Malaysian children are most concerned with bullying, based on a global survey by Unicef.
From its findings, Malaysian children were the most worried about bullying compared to three out 10 children in Japan, and four out 10 in the United Kingdom according to the comparative survey.
The study involved 11,000 children aged nine to 18 in 14 countries across the globe including Brazil, Egypt, India, Turkey and USA and focused on children’s concerns and priorities on global issues.
Among other issues that were raised by the children were climate change (77 per cent) while poverty, terrorism and education access stood at 74 per cent.
It also found that children were concerned about violence against children and more than half of the participants in the survey expressed mistrust of adults and leaders.
Unicef representative to Malaysia, Marianne Clark-Hattingh said adults need to take an active role in listening to the needs of the children and addressing the issues immediately.
She added, from the survey it showed that children took an interest in global issues and were concerned about its impact to them and their peers, especially on issues such as bullying.
“The findings of the global survey highlight issues of particular concern to Malaysian children compared to others, and this should be taken seriously by the relevant parties.
“As adults we should listen and consult the children as they might feel like their opinions are not heard or their voices does not influence change.
“When children and adolescents are engaged and encouraged to participate, it gives them confidence. So on this World’s Children’s Day let them speak up and listen,” said Marianna in a statement.
About 54 per cent of Malaysian children felt that they did not contribute to change in Malaysia compared to 51 per cent in Japan, 61 per cent in USA, 71 per cent in the United Kingdom and 40 per cent in India.
According to the survey, children were optimistic that the world would be a better place if leaders listened to them. It was discovered that the children felt appreciated most when heard by their families, friends and teachers.
In the study, the children’s interests were also taken into account with Barack Obama being the top choice to be invited to their birthday parties, followed by footballer Cristiano Ronaldo, singer Justin Bieber and AliBaba founder Jack Ma.
Children in Malaysia, Brazil and India also chose watching television as their favourite pastime and spent the same amount of time on homework and social media. Smart phone usage is the highest among Malaysian children.
The survey was conducted in conjunction with World Children’s Day on November 20 with the theme, #ForEveryChild, in efforts to raise awareness to the authorities of listening to children’s voices that could help in decision-making processes.
On the day, 30 children in Malaysia including those with special needs will take-over local media to make their voices heard across the nation.