Pollution and natural disasters are the top environmental concerns for children around the world, according to a survey conducted by the Christian Children’s Fund.
It’s important to hear the voices of children.
— Mark Lukowski, Christian Children’s Fund of Canada
The annual survey, titled “Small Voices, Big Dreams,” polled a total of 6,204 kids in 47 countries—36 developing countries and 11 developed countries, accounting for 59 percent and 41 percent of respondents respectively.
“We’re trying to find things that matter to children, and so this year’s survey is telling us that children are, for the most part, concerned about their environment,” said Mark Lukowski, CEO of the Christian Children’s Fund of Canada (CCFC).
Although the questionnaire is anecdotal and questions range from asking respondents what insect they find most dangerous to what they dream of becoming when they grow up, this year the survey also asked 10 to 12-year-olds about their environmental concerns.
“It’s important to hear the voices of children,” Lukowski said.
Results show that one-third of those surveyed had pollution on their list of top concerns, while one-fifth said they were more worried about natural disasters like droughts, floods, and earthquakes.
Twenty-six percent of children in developing countries worried about natural disasters, while 33 percent in developed countries listed pollution as their main concern.
Lukowski said it’s not surprising that kids in developing countries, especially in Africa, cited natural disasters as their main environmental concern as they experience such events first hand.
This is something he witnessed while spending time in Burkina Faso, a small country in west Africa effected by drought.
“[The kids] get up every morning and they weren’t sure whether they’d be eating that day, because of the effects of the drought,” he said.
The CCFC is involved in educating children in developing countries about the surrounding environment and on topics such as soil erosion, deforestation, and recycling.
Over half of Canadian children surveyed said they worry about pollution.
“That tells us that they are concerned about it, and probably at some point will be engaged to try to do something about it,” Lukowski said.
“As a parent, I think it’s comforting to hear that the children are aware of some of the climate change issues that are going on around them and in the developing world.”
News of Hurricane Sandy heightened interest in environmental issues and drew attention from people around the world, Lukowski noted.
The survey coincides with the launch of the CCFC’s Christmas Wish program, which focuses on providing relief in Burkina Faso.
CCFC is a member of ChildFund Alliance, a network of 12 child development organizations whose work encompasses more than 16 million children and their families in 58 countries.
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