According to a new international survey by UNICEF and Gallup, Nigerian children and young people feel the most pressure to succeed.,
Data from the survey reveals that young Nigerians are facing a mental health challenge, with 1 in 6 young aged between 15 -24 years, saying they often feel depressed, have little interest in doing things, or are worried, nervous or anxious.
A total of 85 per cent say they feel greater pressure to succeed than their elders, the highest in all 21 countries surveyed, with young Lebanese coming a close second.
The poll, ‘The Changing Childhood Project’, is the first of its kind to ask multiple generations for their views on what it is like to be a child today. It surveyed more than 21,000 people in 21 countries, including Nigeria. Nationally representative surveys were undertaken in countries across Africa, Asia, Europe, and North and South America and income levels, across two age cohorts (15-24 years old and 40 years old and above).
The survey, conducted during the COVID-19 pandemic, examines young people’s opinions about mental health, worldview, trust in institutions, importance of equality, climate change, digital benefits and risks, among others.
Findings show that 72 percent of young Nigerians are concerned about personal information being collected and shared online. Indonesia came second at 63 per cent and Kenya at 54 per cent. Moreover, 84 percent of Nigerian children and young people show high levels of concern about risks of physically meeting people after virtually meeting them online, which is slightly higher than children in the United States (81 per cent) and Brazil (82 per cent).
Regarding finance, young Nigerians showed high level of concern, with 74 per cent of females and 66 per cent males worried they don’t have enough money for food.
According to UNICEF Representative in Nigeria, Peter Hawkins; “Children and young people in Nigeria clearly have a high level of concern about many and varied issues, compared to their peers in other countries. We cannot bury our heads in the sand and hope these concerns will go away, we need to take action. And the first step is to solicit their views, listen closely and allow their concerns and ideas to influence our policy decisions. The future of Nigeria belongs to her children and young people, they have the right to be heard, have their needs addressed and their solutions explored. It is only through commitment to understanding and investing more in our children and young people’s presents and futures that we can maximize every child’s potential and ensure they have a full and happy life.”
The poll also shows gender disparity in the views of young Nigerians;
- Girls are 26 per cent less likely to trust the police than boys
- Girls are 10 per cent more likely to think it is equally important for both boys and girls to learn how to understand personal finances.
- Boys are 28 per cent more likely than girls to think it is acceptable for a parent to physically punish a child. Boys are four percent more likely to think it is very important to treat females equally.
Despite these challenges and gender divides, young Nigerians are optimistic of their future.
Compared to their elders, they believe that today’s children and young people receive better quality healthcare, education and access to clean water than their parents did. A total of 70 per cent males and 80 per cent females also believe they will be economically better off than their parents.
Young Nigerians also agree that the minimum age for marriage for both boys and girls should be 25, expressing a desire for more time to enjoy their independence before adulthood.
- Critically, 87 per cent Nigerians believe it is important for politicians to listen to views of children’s when making decisions.
- “We cannot know what is on the minds of young people if we do not ask them. UNICEF’s survey reinforces the importance of hearing from the next generation and understanding their perspectives. The children of today are the leaders of tomorrow. It is crucial for older generations to play their part to ensure our children inherit a better world,” Joe Daly, Senior Partner at Gallup said.
- “This is a clarion call from young Nigerians. A call to listen, to learn and to take action to lift Nigeria high. As we celebrate World Children’s Day, it is crucial we listen to young people directly about their well-being, both physical and mental and their aspirations in this changing world,” Peter Hawkins said.