Press Release

New UNICEF USA Polling Highlights Views of American Children on Political and Social Issues

Nearly half of children do not feel included in the political process, and 90% are worried about something, including gun violence and healthcare

NEW YORK (November 19, 2019) – In advance of World Children’s Day tomorrow, November 20, UNICEF USA released new polling data looking at the views of over 1,000 American children ages 8-17 (for the purposes of this release referred to as American children) on the political process, their engagement with social issues and what they want from their next president. The polling, conducted online by The Harris Poll on behalf of UNICEF USA, found:

  • Only one third of American children (33%) feel included in the U.S. political process. Over four out of five children (81%) think kids could help improve the country if politicians worked more closely with children and young people.
  • Girls are more likely to say they do not feel included in the U.S.  political process than boys (53% vs 43%), while boys are more likely than girls to say that they feel included (37% vs 30%).
  • Only about two in five children (43%) said that presidential candidates listen to young people on issues of importance to them.
  • When asked what issues should be a priority for the next president, 60% of children said keeping children safe from guns and other ways people might try to hurt children, 57% said not tolerating bullying and 56% said making sure kids get the care they need when they’re sick.
    • Other priorities included access to healthy food and clean water where kids live (49%), access to good schools (48%), mental health support for kids (46%), teaching kids about online safety (42%) and taking care of the environment (40%).
  • 90% of children said that they were worried about something in their life, with gun and other types of violence against children as the most common concern (46%), followed by bullying and mistreatment (45%), not having enough money (36%) and things that can harm the environment (36%).
  • Nearly half of children (47%) say they do not feel that the media takes kids thoughts and opinions into consideration and thinks about issues that affect kids when they are writing/reporting stories.

“With UNICEF USA’s long history of advocating for children both nationally and globally, we know that this election presents a critical opportunity to remind presidential candidates that today’s issues impact tomorrow’s leaders,” said Anucha Browne, Chief Engagement, Advocacy and Global Programs Officer at UNICEF USA. “This new data shows that American children are not only watching, but they want to have a voice and are asking leaders to listen to them. By considering policies that protect children and young people, presidential candidates can help support and empower a new generation of global citizens.”

The data comes in advance of World Children’s Day on Wednesday, November 20, a global day that is “for children, by children” to advocate and raise awareness on the most pressing issues facing young people. UNICEF has long highlighted voices of youth on issues that matter to them, and consistently called attention to topics that impact children, with policymakers, the public and more.

UNICEF USA is inviting supporters to reaffirm the need for young people’s voices as part of the election process. Advocates can message the presidential candidates directly, asking them to listen to children and share their #VisionforChildren. They can also share their advocacy actions on social media.

This survey was conducted online within the United States by The Harris Poll on behalf of UNICEF USA from October 29-November 5, 2019 among 1,011 American children ages 8-17. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables and subgroup sample sizes, please contact


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The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) works in more than 190 countries and territories to put children first. UNICEF has helped save more children’s lives than any other humanitarian organization, by providing health care and immunizations, safe water and sanitation, nutrition, education, emergency relief and more. UNICEF USA supports UNICEF's work through fundraising, advocacy and education in the United States. Together, we are working toward the day when no children die from preventable causes and every child has a safe and healthy childhood. For more information, visit


For more information, contact
Lauren Davitt, UNICEF USA, 212.922.2503,
Gabby Arias, UNICEF USA, 917.720.1306,