One in five children in the European Union has claimed to be growing up unhappy and anxious about the future, according to the report ‘Our Europe. Our rights. Our Future ‘published this Tuesday by the ChildFund Alliance, Eurochild, Save The Children, UNICEF and World Vision in collaboration with the European Commission. The document indicates that the COVID-19 pandemic has pushed children and young people in Europe and elsewhere to feel pressure and uncertainty.
The study, for which the 10,000 children between 11 and 17 years of age, it aims to be a benchmark to configure the design of the next European Union Strategy on Children’s Rights and the Child Guarantee.
Specifically, one in ten children surveyed has indicated that live with mental health problems or symptoms such as depression or anxiety, with girls being those who felt more at risk than boys, while older minors reported higher levels of problems.
A third of the children surveyed have acknowledged having suffered discrimination or exclusion, a situation that also has suffered 50 percent of children with disabilities, migrants, minorities ethnic groups or the LGTBQ + collective.
According to the report, also three-quarters of the children consulted have said they are happy in school, but 80 percent of the 17-year-olds have said that they feel that the education offered does not prepare them well for the future.
In this sense, the majority of children have stressed that they would like to make changes in their school life. Specific, 62 percent have chosen to have fewer duties, and 57 percent for having more interesting classes.
Likewise, almost a third have said they would like to influence content of the school curriculum, with more sports activities -33 percent-, learning about children’s rights -31 percent- and more artistic subjects -31 percent-.
On the other hand, almost all the minors surveyed have indicated that they have heard about children’s rights, while 88 percent said they were aware of climate change and its impact on the community; 8 percent more or less conscious and 4 percent were not sure.
‘This consultation with children is a turning point for us at the European Commission and represents an important step towards greater child participation. Children are experts on the issues that concern them and this consultation shows once again that they are already important participants in the here and now ”, said the Vice-President of the European Commission, Dubravka Suica.
For their part, representatives of the ChildFund Alliance, Eurochild, Save the Children, UNICEF and World Vision have described the report as “historic”, since it is the first time that “so many children and young people can directly influence and shape policy of the European Union”.
“It could not come at a more important time, just when children are facing the psychological and concrete consequences of the pandemic, which has forced them to adapt to a new reality in the coming years,” the organizations have asserted.
Likewise, the European Commissioner for Employment and Social Rights, they say, Nicholas Schmit, has welcomed “this consultation with great satisfaction” and thanked the thousands of children who have given their contributions. «Your voices are being heard», has highlighted.
«Building a comprehensive childhood rights strategy must include all relevant areas, from health to social inclusion, through education, justice respectful of children, migrant children and participation in the democratic process. It is of the utmost importance to listen to children and find out their opinions on these issues, ”the European Commissioner for Justice, Didier Reynders, also insisted.
The initiative will serve to put “children at the center” in the forthcoming EU Strategy on Children’s Rights, which, according to David Lega, co-chair of the European Parliament Intergroup on Children’s Rights, “will go in the right direction” .
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