The United Nations Children’s Fund has said that Nigerian children and young people feel under the most pressure to succeed globally.
UNICEF based its findings on an international survey conducted in partnership with Gallup, released ahead of World Children’s Day, marked annually on 20 November.
According to the survey, young people in Nigeria face mental health challenges, with 1 in 6 young Nigerians aged 15-24 saying they often feel depressed, have little interest in doing things, or are worried, nervous or anxious.
Also, as much as 85 per cent of those surveyed said they feel a greater pressure to succeed than their elders, making Nigeria the highest of all 21 countries surveyed, with young people in Lebanon a close second.
The survey titled ‘The Changing Childhood Project’, was conducted among 21,000 people in 21 countries, including Nigeria. It is the first of its kind to ask multiple generations for their views on what it is like to be a child today.
Apart from mental health challenges, the survey also examined opinions of young people regarding their worldview, trust in institutions, the importance of equality, climate change, digital benefits and risks, finances amongst other issues.
Commenting on the outcome of the survey, UNICEF Nigeria Representative, Peter Hawkins, noted that concerns of children and young Nigerians should be taken into proper consideration.
He also advocated that these concerns should serve as a guide to Nigeria’s policymakers.
He said, “Children and young people in Nigeria clearly have a high level of concern about many and varied issues, compared to their peers in other countries.
“We cannot bury our heads in the sand and hope these concerns will go away – we need to take action. And the first step is to solicit their views, really listen closely and allow their concerns and ideas to influence our policy decisions.
“The future of Nigeria belongs to its children and young people – they have the right to be heard, have their needs addressed and their solutions explored. It is only through commitment to understanding and investing more in our children and young people’s presents and futures that we can maximize every child’s potential and ensure they have a full and happy life.”
Meanwhile, Senior Partner at Gallup, Joe Daly, added that it was essential for the voices of children and young Nigerians to be heard stating that the survey had helped to know what is on their minds.
He however urged the older generation to ensure of better future for the coming generation.
“We cannot know what is on the minds of young people if we do not ask them. UNICEF’s survey reinforces the importance of hearing from the next generation and understanding their perspectives.
“The children of today are the leaders of tomorrow; it is crucial for older generations to do their part to ensure our children inherit a better world,” he said.
“This is a clarion call from young people in Nigeria. A call to listen, to learn and to take action to lift Nigeria high. As we celebrate this World Children’s Day, it is critical we listen to young people directly about their well-being – both physical and mental – and their aspirations in this changing world,” Peter Hawkins added.