BBC News

Monday 15 November 1999

Girls 'more assertive than boys'

BBC News

UK - Girls are more likely to stand up for their rights than boys, according to a survey.

A Mori poll of 315 British children aged eight to 14 found 85% knew they had rights, but girls were more inclined to defend their beliefs than boys.

Forty-one per cent stood up for themselves, compared with just 30% of boys.

The poll was conducted for Unicef as part of its celebrations for the 10th anniversary of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

It found many youngsters in the UK put better care for children and tackling young homelessness as priorities for improving their rights.

Reducing bullying and improving education were also high on the list of issues they thought Prime Minister Tony Blair should take on board.

Unicef says the poll demonstrates children often put others before themselves.

Duty to promote convention

Some 78% said they had stood up for a friend who was being bullied and 43% had stood up for a friend's right to be treated equally.

But despite having a general knowledge of their rights, only 7% had heard of the UN convention, although the UK Government has a duty to promote it.

Unicef says children should be taught about it in school. It is also calling for a children's rights commissioner to be appointed by the government to act as an independent voice for children.

Several European countries already have a commissioner.

David Bull, executive director of Unicef UK, said it was disappointing so few children knew about the convention.

He said: "Children are clearly concerned about the welfare and rights of others - particularly those who are disadvantaged through poverty and or homelessness.

"We still have huge problems facing children in the UK. There are four million children living in poverty; abuse and neglect are all too common.

"Children cannot vote, and lack access to the political process which is available to adults, so it is especially important that there is a commissioner who can be a voice for children."