Mosts Czech children happy but disimprovement in some areas, suggests new survey

Sixty-three percent of children in the Czech Republic are happy, according to a survey of 9- to 17-year-olds carried out this year on behalf of the Czech branch of the United Nations children’s fund, UNICEF. The last study of its kind seven years ago also suggested that two thirds of Czech children were happy. But in some other areas things appear to have changed, the director of the Czech branch of UNICEF, Pavla Gomba, told me at the launch of the new report.

“Czech kids today are a little bit different. There are a few areas that we identified clearly as challenges in the Czech Republic. They now face crimes – the number of children [who say this] has almost doubled since the last research, and they don’t feel very safe in their environment. Also they face problems with abuse of drugs, alcohol and of course cigarettes – there has been substantial growth.”

Were there any big surprises for you in this research?

“One of the things that was surprising for me was the number of children who would like to live abroad when they grow up. In the last research it was 16 percent and today it is 22 percent, which I think is also something that we cannot be very happy about.”

Generally speaking, what is the usefulness of a report like this?

“This report is very unique because it’s not based only on statistics or some social demographic indicators – these are the true, authentic opinions of children. And they don’t have so many opportunities to have their voices heard. This is the objective of this report. We will provide all the results to our politicians and institutions which deal with children, because they are the ones who can bring some changes, especially in the areas which are challenging.”

Patrik Eliáš,  photo: Michael Miller,  CC BY-SA 3.0
The “patron” of the newly released study on the feelings of Czech children is the ice hockey star Patrik Eliáš. Given that he runs a hockey school in the US, how would he compare American and Czech kids?

“I’ve been living in the States for 12 years and one thing that stands out is the positivity. Their thinking, right from the beginning when they’re growing up, when they’re little, they hear on TV, from their parents, in sports, at school…they hear that you always have to make the most out of a situation if it’s bad. Sometimes in the Czech Republic the kids, if the situation is bad, they don’t make the most of it, they kind of go into their shells and think about what they did wrong, instead of looking at the positives.”