By Prantick Majumder
New Delhi: Children across the world are aware of the causes of violence in their countries and 50 percent of children in India said poverty was the key trigger, according to a worldwide NGO.
The fourth annual “Small Voices, Big Dreams” global survey, conducted by the ChildFund group, noted 29 percent of children across the world said “bad behaviour” and 28 percent said alcohol and drugs were responsible for violence.
Children in India say that lack of education, domestic abuse and social conflict were also important causes of violence. The survey polled 6,499 children aged 10-12 in 47 countries.
Asked about their views on socio-political issues facing their country, children around the world held “sophisticated views” at a young age, the study said.
On what they would do to end violence against children if they were president of their country, 30 percent said they would crack down by imposing stronger anti-violence laws.
While 12 percent of children across the world said improving education would be their priority, 41 percent of Indian children cited stronger laws.
The children responded to six questions, including, “What makes you feel safe and happy?” In India, 44 percent said they feel safe and happy at schools while 38 percent said the family was where they mostly feel safe.
Asked what issues were the most important to them, education topped the list, with 85 percent of Indian children agreeing that everyone should have a good education.
Moreover, 56 percent said men and women should be treated equally, and 52 percent said there was a need for improvement in road transportation.
Asked about their heroes, 23 percent of children in India cited historical figures like Mahatma Gandhi and Subhash Chandra Bose.
Shravan, an 11-year-old from Jhabua in Madhya Pradesh, said if he gets the chance to lead India, he would bring stringent laws to punish those who commit crimes against children.
Shravan studies in Class 6. He is among seven children of his family that depends on farming.
“I would ensure that police arrest and punish those who harass girls while going to school. I would prevent the sale of alcohol as it fuels much violence. Also, I would ensure cleanliness and availability of drinking water in all villages across the country,” he said.
Shravan believed illiteracy and alcoholism are the two main causes of violence in India.
Rachna, another 11-year-old from Kaushambi, Uttar Pradesh, felt studying should be a “joyful affair”.
“If I were the leader of India, I would make sure all children, especially girls, have a bicycle to go to school. I would also ban corporal punishment in school, making studying a joyful affair. It would stop child labour and thus exploitation and violence,” she said.
Rachna said the main reason of violence in India was the caste system.
“It puts some high on the social ladder, while making the lives of others miserable by branding them as low caste people. This disparity often results in violence,” she said.
Katherine Manik, ChildFund’s country director in India, said: “This year’s survey focussed on children’s attitudes about violence, peace, happiness and their heroes. The findings show that children can think beyond themselves and consider how their world can be improved.”
The ChildFund Alliance is a worldwide network of 12 international development organisations providing assistance to 16 million children and their families in 58 countries.