On Thursday 15 February, the 4th World Vision Children Study was presented in Berlin, showing results of a direct survey with 2,550 children on several aspects of child development. For the first time, a scientist from the University of Luxembourg, Prof. Sascha Neumann, co-led the research.
The World Vision Children Study 2018 (in German), led by Prof. Sabine Andresen from Goethe University in Frankfurt and Prof. Sascha Neumann, provides many varied and interesting insights into the reality of children’s lives in Germany. The research team surveyed 2,550 children between the ages of 6 and 11 with regard to their well-being in important areas of their lives (school, family and leisure). Such a direct survey of children, including the young cohort of 6-7 year olds, remains as yet unique internationally.
Focus on migration and refugees
The experiences of children in Germany with refugees were a focus of the 2018 study. The debate surrounding the acceptance and integration of refugees has had a significant impact on the German public since 2015. As the study shows, the children have been highly sensitive to this situation, as the majority of the children surveyed displayed a high degree of sympathy for refugees. Overall, 85% were in favour of helping them and of giving something up to do so. The majority of the children also reported positive experiences in their interactions with refugees. Around a third spoke of having undertaken activities with refugee children from time to time. For children without German citizenship, this number reached 53%. Still, 10% of the children were more distant in their stance. This percentage was nearly twice as high in East Germany as in West Germany.
Childhood poverty as an unsolved problem
According to the results, the majority of children in Germany are doing well, though not all. One fifth of the children are affected by concrete experiences of poverty. The results demonstrate numerous negative effects, which go hand in hand with poverty: the affected children have fewer friends, are often less active in social associations and complain more often that they spend too little time with their parents. They also have less confidence in their own ability to perform in school. The proportion of children with concrete experiences of poverty has remained constant for years, as a comparison with the previous study shows. “The great need for action from the political sphere remains unchanged,” says Sascha Neumann, professor for the study of childhood at the University of Luxembourg.
Participation and co-determination can be improved
Important findings are given on the question of the degree to which children are able to be involved in decision-making in their daily lives, which impacts interests relevant to them. The results are highly uneven, which is why the study speaks of the need to strengthen children’s right for co-determination, both horizontally — that is, for all children —, as well as vertically — into every area of a child’s life. While the majority of children stated that their families and friends took their needs seriously, the level of co-determination in schools was generally low. Only 32% of children had the impression that teachers valued their opinion. The opportunities for co-determination also proved to be strongly dependent on the age and social background of the children: the higher the social class and the older the child, the greater that child’s chances of asserting its own point of view and needs.
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The book on the study was published: World Vision Deutschland e.V. (ed.) (2018). Kinder in Deutschland 2018. 4. World Vision Kinderstudie. Weinheim, Basel: Beltz.