Accueil Accueil    Envoyer à un ami Envoyer à un ami    Version imprimable Version imprimable    Augmenter la taille du texte Augmenter la taille du texte    Diminuer la taille du texte Diminuer la taille du texte

Building a Europe for and with children

By Jenny Schuler, Rapporteur of the Council of Europe INGO Conference

Results of the European youth survey “Young people and Europe”


Building a Europe for and with children
This survey was conducted as part of and for the purpose of the Building a Europe for and with Children campaign launched by the Council of Europe in Monaco in April 2006.
The aim of the campaign is to develop legal instruments for protecting young people in the Council of Europe's 47 member states.
At the same time, we noticed that the main protagonists (children themselves) were not actually involved in the relevant discussions.

The aim of the survey was to seek young people's views about Europe, and it was divided into three parts:
- Part 1 testing young people's knowledge of Europe,
- Part 2 asking their views about the major issues discussed at the Council of Europe,
- Part 3 asking about their definition of a family and about their dreams.

The survey was aimed at young people aged 11 to 20 years and was translated into several languages (German, English, Bulgarian, Spanish, Portuguese, French, Italian, Polish, Dutch and Russian) on a voluntary basis by officials from INGOs holding participatory status with the Council of Europe which are members of the INGO Conference.

The survey was sent out in three phases. A first batch of questionnaires was issued in January 2007 to test a small sample of French young people's understanding of the questions. A second batch of questionnaires was issued in April 2007, followed by a third in October 2007, through the INGO Conference and advertising on various websites. A small proportion of the replies were received online (5%), but most questionnaires were returned by post. They were distributed through schools and other institutions for young people.
Over 2 010 were returned. We kept 1 525 to analyse the findings.

On the basis of the findings, we hope to implement practical measures on the ground in liaison with all the children who responded to the survey and taking account of their replies so as to build tomorrow's Europe with them.

Many thanks to everyone who worked on the project, translated the questionnaire into the various languages and helped compile the children's replies.

Presentation of panel of young people surveyed:

Gender parity was respected: both girls and boys replied in large numbers (803 girls/712 boys), with both private and public-sector establishments represented. 36% of the replies came from France and 64% from elsewhere in Europe.
Three age groups were covered: 11 to 13, 14 to 16 and 17 to 20 years. As young people's thinking and level of maturity change very quickly at that stage in their lives, we felt it would be worthwhile seeing whether their replies varied significantly according to their age.
Building a Europe for and with children

Building a Europe for and with children

Results for all age groups and nationalities:

  • Part 1: What Europe means
In this part of the survey, the young people were asked what Europe meant to them in terms of ideas and knowledge. The first question offered several replies, from which they were required to choose four, ranked by order of importance (from 1, very important, to 4, least important). They were also able to give their own reply under “other”.
For most of the young people, Europe meant the opening up of borders and the possibility of travel (1st) or an opportunity for higher education (2nd). The reply given most infrequently was “something that doesn't concern me”. We can therefore rest assured: today's young people see Europe as a reality which offers them opportunities for personal fulfilment and development. In the “other” category, there were two main ideas: “an alliance of countries which established peace” and “an economic alliance”.
Building a Europe for and with children

Few young people seemed to be particularly interested in the birth of Europe or the principles underlying its establishment. Only small numbers replied correctly to the question of who the founders of Europe were. They could give multiple answers. While Robert SCHUMAN seems to be well-known, his partners in the undertaking are not well-known at all.
Building a Europe for and with children

A series of three questions were then put to measure the young people's knowledge about the Council of Europe. As among many of our adult contemporaries, great confusion reigns. 80% of the young people said they had heard about the Council of Europe, mostly through two channels, ie school or television. However, the replies regarding the Council of Europe's number of member states clearly showed that they confuse the Council of Europe and the European Union. They therefore have a good idea of the Europe of 27, but are unfamiliar with the 47 countries represented in Strasbourg in the Home of Democracy and Human Rights.
Building a Europe for and with children

Building a Europe for and with children

  • Part 2: Social issues:
The purpose of this part of the survey was to see which issues interested young people in their daily lives and how they saw themselves in tomorrow's Europe.

The first question asked them to list the essential elements of a successful life. They had to choose four replies from around 15 and rank them by order of importance (from 1, very important, to 4, least important). The reply chosen by an overwhelming majority was the family. Even if the family does not necessarily come first, it is vital to our young people's perception of happiness. It was followed closely by love, a successful career, money and peace. We will see below that the rankings vary depending on the age group. The reply given least frequently was fame.
Building a Europe for and with children

The second, difficult question concerned the situations which affected or upset the young people most and where they would be willing to become involved to bring about change. Again, they had to choose four replies and rank them (from 1, very intolerable, to 4, least intolerable). The question was doubly difficult in that all the situations given are unacceptable and should not exist in an ideal world. The young people also had to take account of their own willingness to become involved to bring about change. Some were unable to cope with this dual challenge: either they did not reply to the question or they ticked all the boxes and ranked them 1 (very intolerable).
The four replies given most frequently were hunger, racism, war and slavery. Many respondents ranked poverty, child soldiering, child labour and pollution on much the same level. The reply given least frequently was exclusion.
Building a Europe for and with children

To put the above in a legal context, we asked the young people if they knew of the Convention on the Rights of the Child: the vast majority did.
Building a Europe for and with children

To find out about the young people's areas of interest, we asked them which aspects of other European countries they would like to learn more about. They had to choose up to four replies from a list of 12; there was also an “other” option. The young people are willing to get to know foreign people, traditions and languages. They are therefore prepared to do everything needed to understand other people with their differences and cultures. The most frequent replies in the “other” category were sport, cooking and man/woman of their lives. The reply given least frequently was geography.
Building a Europe for and with children

With regard to young people's views about freedom of expression, two questions were included. The first, direct question was whether they believed everything could be said in the name of freedom of expression. A very large majority said no.
Building a Europe for and with children

Those replying in the negative could then choose one or more replies indicating which limits they believed should be placed on freedom of expression. The vast majority chose all of the replies.
Building a Europe for and with children

Another tricky subject was whether young people are willing to give up fashion trends if they realise that their clothes are made by children and young people who cannot go to school and work long hours in difficult conditions. The reply was not obvious: only 57% of the young people were willing to give up fashion trends. Some added “I don't know”, an option which was not included on the questionnaire.
Building a Europe for and with children

One of the aims of the Building a Europe for and with Children campaign is for smacking to be regarded as a form of corporal punishment and, more generally, to change attitudes to bringing up children, which can and must be done without physical punishment. What did the young respondents think?
They had to choose two replies from five (with an “other” option) and rank them (1, most effective, 2, least effective).

Building a Europe for and with children
For the majority of the young people, the most effective punishment was either being denied the right to engage in hobbies/go out with friends or having to do extra work. Those who chose the “other” option for the most effective punishment suggested being denied access to modern technology (computer, MP3, video games), dialogue as a means of conflict resolution or, in rare and extreme cases, prison.

Lastly, we adults have set ideas about what a good education for our children involves. Article 29 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child sets out what the content of education should be. We went by that article in asking the young people for their views about the objectives of education.
They could choose two replies, with no ranking.
The replies given most frequently were 1) prepare myself to take responsibilities in a free society with peace and tolerance;
2) develop my personality and my abilities.
Building a Europe for and with children

  • Part 3: Personal opinions:
In a rapidly changing society marked by phenomenal technological advances, fragmentation and multiplication of the models young people turn to and constantly expanding imbalances, it was important to let young people have a say regarding their most immediate daily lives (family) and what they dream of for their lives in the not too distant future.
Two questions were put.

1-Give your definition of a family;
Building a Europe for and with children

The young people referred to their own families when giving a definition. When they gave non-specific replies, they spoke of a group of people where they learned to love, respect and listen to others. When they gave specific replies, they listed the members of their families: a father, a mother, brothers and sisters. 138 said that the members of their families were grown-ups: parents, uncles, aunts and friends. A very small number added a pet (dog, cat, goldfish).
Whether it was small or large, more than a third of the young people saw the family as a place of solidarity and the first group to turn to for support in the event of problems. It was a community based on love, where young people were accepted as they were. 17% said that their family would always be there for them and 15% said that it was something very important or sacred. Some even said that they were very lucky to belong to a family like theirs and hoped that many others were equally lucky.
6.5% refused to answer the question.

2- If your fairy godmother offered to make your wildest dream come true, what would it be?
Building a Europe for and with children

Apart from a few remarks such as “is the fairy godmother pretty” or “I don't believe in fairy godmothers”, the young people went along with the question. Their replies were either individual or concerned humankind as a whole – or both at the same time.
When the young people's dreams were on an individual level, they said they wanted to succeed in life through successful studies and careers. Happiness lay in founding a family and travelling around the world. Of those who dreamt of becoming famous, half wanted this to be in an artistic field (actor, famous musician, conductor), while the other half wanted to be politicians, especially the president of their country. A very wide range of answers were given in the “other” category, including parachute jumping, flying like a bird, having a machine to go back in time, immortality, bringing a family member back to life and a football team winning a championship, etc.
When their dreams concerned humankind as a whole, they involved peace in the world and ending wars. The young people dreamt of being rich so as to be able to help countries in difficulty and many spoke of stopping off in a poor country to provide humanitarian aid when travelling round the world. They also dreamt of the end of disease, especially the eradication of cancers. 12% did not answer the question.

Breakdown of replies by age group:

  • The 14 to 16-year-olds mainly gave Robert Schuman and Winston Churchill as the founders of Europe, while the 11 to 13-year-olds and 17 to 20-year-olds gave Robert Schuman and Charles de Gaulle.

  • The 11 to 13-year-olds ranked the factors in a successful life in the following order of priority: family, money, love and fame. For the 14 to 20-year-olds, the order was different: family, love, a successful career and beauty.

  • The situations which upset the young people were also ranked differently. The 11 to 13-year-olds were willing to become involved to combat hunger, war and slavery. The 14 to 16-year-olds would become involved to combat racism, slavery and hunger. Lastly, the 17 to 20-year-olds would become involved to combat hunger, racism and war.
  • Which aspects of other European countries would they like to learn more about? The 11 to 13-year-olds ranked their replies as follows: people, traditions and then language. The 14 to 20-year-olds replied in the following order: first language, then traditions and then people.

Breakdown of replies by nationality:

  • While most of the young people said that a successful life consisted firstly of a family and then true love, the non-European respondents (other category) put family first, followed by a successful career. The young Scots put money before family, while the young Russians put intelligence before family.

  • Most of the young people were willing to meet people from other European countries and find out about their traditions, with the young Scots and Hungarians putting music before traditions.

  • As far as wildest dreams were concerned, the young Italians would like to become politicians so as to root out corruption and introduce policies that benefit everybody, the young Russians were very concerned about eradicating disease and the young French and Germans were waiting for true love!


I wish to thank everyone who played an active part in preparing and distributing this survey.

Thank you to:
Cyril RITCHIE, Aurore COLLET, Jorge MACHADO, Barbara ORCZELOWSKA, Heleen JANSEN, Victor KAMISHANOV, Daniela RADEVA, Daniela GEORGHE and Georges NOTHHELFER for translating the survey into the various European languages.

Thank you to:

Liga espanola de la education y cultura popular
Moscow Youth Rehabilitation Institute,
INGOs which distributed the questionnaires among their member organisations.

Thank you to:
Xavier SIMON for his assistance with IT and logistics.

Thank you to:
Isabelle DESCHARD for publicising the survey on her websites: ACEP and Forum civique.

Thank you to the pupils of Paul WERNERT secondary school in Achenheim and Maxime ALEXANDRE secondary school in Lingolsheim for helping me record the results of the questionnaires.

Thank you to all the young people for taking the time to complete the survey.

Jenny Schuler, Rapporteur of the Council of Europe INGO Conf

results_european_youth_survey_en.doc Results_European_Youth_Survey_en.doc  (291 KB)

« »


Url trackback de cette note (Copier la cible du lien)

Nouveau commentaire :

Adresse email* (non publiée)
Site web

Me notifier l'arrivée de nouveaux commentaires

  • Un bref commentaire, une courte proposition ? Faites-les ici !

  • Vous souhaitez nous soumettre une plus importante contribution ( article, proposition,... ? Postez-la !