Iuventa / Výskum mládeže / Data catalogue / 2009 / Children about their rights

Children about their rights

Research identification sheet ID: DAYR 026

Authors of the survey: Slovak UNICEF Committee (authors of the final report: Peter Guráň, Slovenské národné stredisko pre ľudské práva (Slovak national centre for human rights); Jarmila Filadelfiová, EsFem)
Period of data collection
: 24 March – 1 April 2009
Data collection:
Agentúra FOCUS, s.r.o.


If we want to apply rights of children, it is more than obvious that we need to know what children know and think about them. We need objective, if possible, and, to the largest extent possible, representative knowledge. The survey provides an overview of application of children’s rights in our country from the viewpoint of children (more precisely – from the viewpoint of children before completing the primary school). An immediate incentive factor for the survey was, on one hand, a round anniversary of the Convention on Children’s Rights, as in 2009 (20 November), it was twenty years since adoption of the document by the UNO; and, on the other hand, campaign of the Council of Europe aimed at full ban on physical punishment of children. The survey focused on two main areas: 1. Awareness of children about human rights and rights of children and assessment of the current situation of their application in Slovakia; 2. Experience and attitudes of children to violence and physical punishment (with regard to ongoing campaign of the Council of Europe for full ban on physical punishment of children).

Methodology of the survey and survey sample

The survey was ordered by the Slovak UNICEF Committee, which, together with authors of the final report, prepared questions for the questionnaire (total of 33 questions, out of which 28 meritorious questions). Data was collected using the method of standardised interviews (face-to-face interviews) recorded using the questionnaire. Empirical data collection was held from 24 March to 1 April 2009 (FOCUS agency). The survey was carried out by means of a network of trained interviewers with a representative sample of 407 children in last years of the primary school, i.e. 7th – 9th class (13 – 15 years). Respondents were selected on the basis of quota selection: selection features were gender, age, size of the municipality and region. The size of the survey sample makes it possible to generalise survey results (first level data) to the population of children aged 13 – 15 years with the maximum deviation of ± 4.9%. The composition of the set broken down by gender was balanced – one half of them were boys and the other half were girls; the same applies to age and school year – each of the three age groups and classes had approximately one-third share in the survey sample.

Survey results

One of the basic preconditions of successful application of the Convention on Rights of Children is enough information about the Convention and individual rights arising thereunder. Article 42 imposes obligation upon countries to provide sufficient information about principles and provisions of the Convention to adults as well as to children. What is the level of awareness of children in Slovakia shortly before leaving the primary school?

  • The survey implies that children in the last year of the primary school in Slovakia dispose of a certain scope of knowledge about rights of children and can take their own standpoints to this topic.
  • At the same time, there is, however, a relatively high share of children who are not satisfied with the scope of information provided.
  • The level of knowledge rises with the age and its definition increases; the decisive breaking point for the purposes of adopting critical viewpoints to this topic is the transition between the 7th and 8th grade).
  • It has been uncovered that more than one half of children aged 13 – 15 have never heard of the Convention or are not sure.
  • On the other hand, the survey also showed that most children know and can enumerate more children rights and many of them can assess the current state of social guarantee of their adherence.
  • In particular, as many as 90% of children answer the question “Could you mention at least 3 rights of children?” with stating at least 1 ; more than ½ stated 3 rights – while reflecting almost all articles of the Convention (they most commonly provided looser interpretation, not the document wording). What did answer refer to: 1. Right to education/right to go to school, to have the opportunity to learn, study, right to knowledge.../; 2. Right to protection from violence or torture and neglect /ban on physical punishment, beating, torture, harassment.../; 3. Right to parental care /right to family care and love, education in the family, to home, both parents, right to grow up with parents, to grow up at home in love.../; 4. Right to one’s own opinion and possibility to express oneself/they talked about freedom of opinions, freedom of speech, right to express one’s opinions, to have opinions of children heard .../; 5+ Other rights /right to name, right to nationality, right to privacy, right to health care, right to relax and leisure time, etc. /.
  • The question “What should, in your opinion, improve in keeping children’s rights in Slovakia?” was answered by most children by a proposal for improvement, with almost ½ of surveyed children formulating more than one proposal. What did the answers refer to: 1. Violence, physical punishment and harassment; 2. Respecting opinions of children and participation of children in decision making; 3. Chances for disadvantaged groups of children; 4. Poverty and social support; 5. Education and schools; 6+. Parental care and approach; Providing information about children’s rights; Leisure time and games; as well as safety of children, keeping law by adults, equalling the status of rights of children to rights of adults, equality of chances, control, etc. 
  • The analysis implied a strong correlation between growing level of knowledge of children and growing level of education of their parents.
  • Points out at direct influence of the family and family background on knowledge and forming opinions of children on human rights; however, also at indirect influence of the family – e.g. because of (in)equality of chances when selecting school, extramural activities, etc.

The CoE is currently holding a campaign for zero tolerance to physical punishment of children. Slovakia has certain aspects regulated in its legislation (ban on physical punishment at schools and facilities for care for children); however, tolerance to use of physical punishment by parents is still high – on the part of the general public and politicians. There are strong stereotypical opinions persisting about the “right” upbringing of children and old “educational means”. Survey findings provided more details about experience, opinions and attitudes of children to violence and physical punishment:

  • Overwhelming majority of Slovak children aged 13 – 15 principally refused use of any physical punishment – unlike adults, children have almost zero tolerance to physical punishment.
  • Refusing physical punishment correlates to education of parents and size of the municipality (acceptance of such punishment is higher among parents with lower level of education, in smaller municipalities, among people of non-Slovak national origin); there was evident reflexion of experience with violence in the environment.
  • Personal experience of children with violence is mostly connected to school, groups of peers and leisure time activities of young people. Rich experience of children with violence in virtual reality was confirmed.

*You can find particular data and expressions in attached documents.

Recommendations of the survey

  • Signalled increase of awareness of rights of children, especially in the last two grades of the mandatory school attendance, points out at a late commencement of its teaching and a non-systemic teaching of rights of children in the whole course of the process of education. Differences at the knowledge level of children point out at importance of professional preparation of teachers in these topics, as well as importance of specialisation in this field of study.
  • Based on uncovered differences in the level of knowledge of rights of children depending on the size of municipality, ethnic origin and family background it is possible to conclude that there is a need to pay higher level of attention to education of children living in smaller municipalities, who are of non-Slovak ethnic origin and live in families with low level of education of parents.
  • The uncovered situation concerning personal experience of children with violence and their attitudes to physical punishment determines a need to continue in the pressure for zero tolerance to physical punishments, look for more efficient ways of guaranteeing safety of children and their protection from expression of violence in the public and private, as well as from negative impacts of presentations of violence in mass media.