UNICEF survey: Czech children among happiest in Eastern Europe

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On Thursday, the Czech branch of UNICEF - the United Nations' Children's Fund - made public the results of an opinion poll carried out amongst children, which was meant to assess the happiness of children in Europe and Central Asia. The UNICEF 'Young Voices Survey' was to give children and young people a chance to be heard. More than 15,000 children and young people were interviewed in 35 countries in Europe and Central Asia.

In each country, 400 interviews amongst representative samples of children aged 9 to 13 and teenagers aged 14 to 17 were conducted. The results of the survey will be presented at a UN special session devoted to children early next year. Dita Asiedu spoke to the head of the Czech branch of UNICEF, Pavla Gomba:

"This survey focused on four main areas. One was more general, looking at how happy children are or how they see their future and how they are integrated in today's society and who they trust. The other parts focused on school, family and politics and society."

So from the outcome of the poll, what can you say about Czech children?

"Czech children in general enjoy good relationships with their parents. 30% say that they would not change anything in their families and those who would change something refer to the characters of their brothers or sisters, for more peace and harmony in the family and better relationships between children and their parents. 63% of children in the Czech Republic say that they are happy most of the time, 36% only sometimes. Compared to children in western Europe and Hungary, this is a lower percentage but compared to Central Asian countries, this level of happiness is much higher."

Did you rank the 34 countries polled as to those with the happiest children to those with the unhappiest?

"The criteria were so extensive that it was not possible to set a specific benchmark. However, it was quite surprising that according to the level of happiness, trust to public representatives and predictions about the future, the most positive children were in Turkmenistan."

Were the children's' parents around when you surveyed them?

"All interviews took place in the children's homes with the permission of their parents but not in their presence. This means that the interviewer and the child were alone while doing the interview, which help to ensure that the child answered freely."