The responses formed part of a global survey of 6,000 children in 44 countries, conducted by the ChildFund Alliance.
It gathered the answers of children in both developed and developing countries, as part of the ‘Small Voices, Big Dreams Survey’, which is now in its sixth year.
According to the Irish responses to the survey:
- 85% of Irish children felt that they were most at risk of being emotionally abused or mistreated online, through social media.
- 65% of Irish children said they felt most at risk from being harmed physically or emotionally at school — significantly higher than the average response globally.
- 20% of Irish children said they felt at risk of harm at home — a much lower percentage than that given by children in developing countries, such as Ghana and Togo.
- 48% of Irish children said they interpreted mistreatment by adults as punishment for wrongdoing.
- 42% of Irish children said they felt adults mistreated them because they had the power to do so.
The survey responses also indicated that 46% of Irish children felt adults should listen to them more and 22% of Irish respondents felt they were mistreated because it was ‘their fault’.
Those behind the survey said it was “concerning” that 25% of Irish children who answered a question on the alleged ‘reasons’ for any mistreatment said it was because the adults were drunk or on drugs.
The children also said they would like world leaders to do more to help the poor and homeless. They also wanted more action to control bullying, both in and out of school.
Michael Kiely, CEO of Childfund Ireland, said the responses from children as young as 10 years old, on the subject of social media, were “amazing”.
“Most of these children are protected and supervised by their parents, but, obviously, some are not,” he said.
“You see seven- and eight-year-olds, now, walking the streets with phones.”
He said one danger was peer pressure — and sometimes bullying — on younger people, through phones and social media, to engage in behaviour they might otherwise avoid.
He added that work was now under way to ensure countries back global sustainable development goals to run until 2030, and to succeed the Millennium Development Goals, which expire this year.
The full ChildFund Alliance report can be viewed at SmallVoicesBigDreams.org.