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Survey finds Darwin children more worried about safety than grades

Georgina Nutton
CDU Education Early Childhood Senior Lecturer Georgina Nutton was the lead researcher in the survey

A survey by a Charles Darwin University (CDU) researcher has found Darwin children are more worried about their personal safety and crime in the community than their school grades.

The results of the survey, published on The Conversation website this week, found 44 per cent of its young respondents were concerned about their personal safety and 16 per cent worried about crime.

More than half of the students under ten (66 per cent) and over 11 (53 per cent) said they were worried about safety in their local community.

A total of 10 per cent were concerned about bullying and school behaviours, while eight per cent listed mental and physical health as a concern. Another eight per cent said they were worried about school performance.

Lead researcher and CDU Education Early Childhood Senior Lecturer Georgina Nutton said the results were part of a more comprehensive study and releasing the findings highlighted to parents and the wider community the importance of listening to children about their fears.

Dr Nutton said the broader study would examine children’s level of self-regulation and executive functioning skills.

“Children everywhere are prone to worrying about what they hear adults discussing in their home or in the media,” she said.

“There is a tendency in the media for intense and concentrated reporting of violence and crime,  which can influence children’s perceptions about the world around them.

“Children also have vivid imaginations and developmentally may not yet be able to process the information that feeds their fears accurately, but their worries are still important, and adults have a role to help children understand and feel safe.”

The research was carried out in July to August 2020 using anonymous surveys of 176 young people aged between five and 15 in Darwin.

Children and young people were asked, in an open question, what they were worried about in their day-to-day lives, and to respond with three worries of importance to them, which researchers grouped into themes.

Other preliminary findings included children feeling that they have very good family relationships, have strategies to calm themselves and can get help from family, teachers and friends when upset.

Dr Nutton plans to expand her research to the wider Northern Territory area.

The Conversation article can be viewed here: Children in Darwin are more worried about their safety than their grades (