CHILDREN’S VOICES WILL HELP inform the EU’s Strategy on the Rights of the Child and the Child Guarantee. A group of five Children’s Rights organisations have used an on-line survey and consultation with children to produce a report, Our Europe. Our Rights. Our Future. More than 10,000 children and young people between 11 and 17 years old were consulted.

European Commission Vice-President, Dubravka Šuica said: “This consultation with children is a game-changer for us at the European Commission and an important step towards greater child participation. Children are experts in the matters that concern them, and this consultation proves once again that children are already important actors in the here and now. Our role is to enable and empower all of them to continue blazing the trail now on their way to becoming tomorrow’s leaders. Therefore, participation, equality and inclusion are the guiding principles for both the EU Strategy on the Rights of the Child and the Child Guarantee in 2021. We must and will ensure that all children have an equal start in life and thrive in this world, free from fear and want.”

Nicolas Schmit, European Commissioner for Jobs and Social Rights, said: “As we face the socio-economic consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic, we do not simply want to protect our children but also to invest in them, so they have the best possible start to life and can thrive. And who better to tell us about the difficulties they are facing than children themselves. I warmly welcome the spirit of this consultation and am grateful to the thousands of children who gave us their input. Your voices are being heard.”

“As policymakers, we need to ensure that our strategies can rely on all citizens’ personal experience. Building up a comprehensive child rights strategy must include all relevant areas, from health (including mental health), social inclusion, education, child-friendly justice, children in migration and participation in the democratic process. It is of utmost importance to listen to children, to hear their voices on these subjects – that is why this consultation is so valuable and will help support the EU’s Strategy on the Rights of the Child,” said Didier Reynders, the European Commissioner for Justice.

“Children are fully-fledged citizens and rights-holders. It is of paramount importance to give children a voice and acknowledge they have a say in shaping the future of Europe. I am extremely glad that the upcoming first comprehensive EU Strategy on the Rights of the Child puts children at the centre, and this consultation is an important step in the right direction. As politicians, it is our responsibility to give all children a real chance to reach their full potential and thrive in all settings, leaving no one behind,” said David Lega MEP, Co-Chair of the European Parliament Intergroup on Children’s Rights.

The survey was initiated by the European Commission who worked on it in close cooperation with a coalition of five child rights agencies; ChildFund Alliance, Eurochild, Save The Children, UNICEF and World Vision.

The report revealed:

  • Almost one in 10 children who were consulted identified as living with mental health problems or symptoms such as depression or anxiety. Girls surveyed were far more at risk than boys, and older children reported higher levels of problems than younger children.
  • A third of the children surveyed experienced discrimination or exclusion.
  • That percentage rose to 50 for children with disabilities, migrants, ethnic minorities or those who identify as LGBTQ+.
  • Three quarters of the children who were consulted feel happy at school, but 80 per cent of 17-year-olds felt that the education provided does not prepare them well for their future.
  • The majority of children consulted would like to make changes in their school life: 62 per cent of respondents would like to have less homework, and 57 per cent of those surveyed would like to have more interesting lessons. Almost a third of respondents would like to influence the content of school curricula, with more sports activities (33 per cent), learning about child rights (31 per cent) and more arts subjects (31 per cent). However, almost all respondents had heard about child rights.
  • Of the children and young people consulted, 88 per cent were aware of climate change and its impact on their community, eight per cent were somewhat aware and four per cent were unsure.

* Download Our Europe, Our Rights, Our Future here.

* Source: Save The Children International