Children from all over the world, including Kenya, participated in the Small Voices, Big Dreans survey. (Joan Ng'ang'a)

Adults are often asked what they think of their lawmakers, how they spend their free time and even whether they like cream and sugar in their coffee. But how often are kids asked what they think?

“It’s important to listen and to hear and respond to what the children say,” said Cynthia Price, who works for ChildFund International, an organization that helps provide health care, education and other basic services for kids in need around the world.

ChildFund Alliance, a group of global organizations dedicated to helping kids, recently released its fourth annual Small Voices, Big Dreams survey, a collection of questions and answers. Almost 6,500 kids ages 10 to 12 from 47 countries were interviewed. Each kid was asked six questions, several of which dealt with safety.

“It really allows the child to share his or her . . . hopes, dreams and fears,” Price said. “We recognize that it’s important to give [kids] that opportunity to speak up and to say what they need.”

ChildFund members use the information to help improve the ways they serve kids in 58 countries, Price said.

Here are a few of the interesting results of the survey. In some cases, kids share the same opinions, but in others, kids around the globe have far different concerns. How would you answer the questions?

“What makes you feel safe and happy?” Overall, 56 percent of kids answered “being with family.” But a majority of kids in such places as Mozambique, a country in southeast Africa, and Cambodia, a country in Southeast Asia, said education made them feel safe and happy. In the United States, only 2 percent of kids answered “education,” while 4 percent of U.S. kids said their dog made them feel safe and happy. In war-torn Afghanistan, 27 percent of kids answered “peace” and “no more war.”

“Which of these are the most important for you and your family? Kids had 16 choices and could pick jsix. Forty-six percent of kids said, “Men and women, boys and girls should not be treated differently.” Forty-four percent said, “Health care should be better.” In Senegal, in West Africa, 65 percent of kids said electricity was most important to them. (Many areas of that country have no electrical power.) Most kids, however, answered that what was most important for them was that everyone be well educated.

“If you were the leader of your country, what is the ONE thing you would do to protect the children of your country from violence?” Many kids, including those in the United States, said they would insist on more law and order. Twelve percent of kids worldwide answered that they would improve education.

“One of the things I’m always amazed by is how much they value education,” Price said. “They recognize education is the way to change their world and make it better.”

“What do you think are the main causes of violence in your country?” Most kids in the United States said “drugs,” “bad behavior” and “guns,” while half of the kids in India said “poverty.” Fifty-six percent of kids in Mozambique said “lack of education.” In Afghanistan, 77 percent of kids said “war.”

“Who is your hero?” Most kids chose family members, but 3 percent of kids in the United States said “athletes.”

“What does peace mean to you?” Thirty-one percent of kids from the United States said “serenity” and “inner peace,” while 45 percent of kids from Mozambique said “no war.” Seven percent of kids from Paraguay, in South America, said “being able to play and have fun.” Thirty-two percent of kids from Ethi­o­pia in East Africa and 53 percent of kids from Laos in Southeast Asia answered “love.”

Moira E. McLaughlin

To see more of the survey, ask a parent to go to