Though a bit young to be socio-political analysts, Cambodia’s children are major believers in the social value of education, are wary of the negative side effects of alcohol on their communities and place a high priority on honest government, a study released yesterday says.
Small Voices, Big Dreams, commissioned by the ChildFund Alliance, is a worldwide survey of the outlook of children aged 10 to 12 in both the developed and developing worlds.
According to the study, 90 per cent of Cambodian children believe that alcohol is the main cause of violence in their communities, while a third believe that the best remedy to violence is improved education. By comparison, only 16 per cent of those surveyed globally chose alcohol as the principle cause of violence, and only 12 per cent saw education as its solution.
“The view that young people have – that alcohol causes violence – is important,” ChildFund country director Carol Mortensen said in a statement. “It is the responsibility of everyone to eradicate violence in the home and provide a safe and nurturing environment for all children.”
Meanwhile, 76 per cent of Cambodian children surveyed chose “honest and responsive government” as their most important priority from a list of 16 issues including things like healthcare, security and education. Only 44 per cent of their peers worldwide shared their view. However, social and political researcher Kem Ley cautioned against reading too much into Cambodian children’s seeming interest in politics, saying that much of it was likely a response to media exposure and older siblings’ and parents’ views.
“Those children that I observe just follow the older ones. I have four children, but my children tend to follow my way. They can accompany me to observe the political parties campaign, but they know nothing about that,” Ley said.
“They like the Gangnam Style of [the opposition’s] number 7, and they like the pictures broadcast through the TV of [the ruling party’s] number 4, but they don’t know anything at all about the politics.”