What are children afraid of?

Reply Fri 11 Jul, 2003 11:02 am
Recently, a German insurance company made a poll amongst 900 children between 6 and 14 years old.

They were confronted with some couple of choosen scaring things.

26% feared to fail in school.
28% feared that their bicycle might be stolen.
32% feared that their parents might become violent.

This seem to be childhood related fears.

The following however, with an even higher percentage, look like as if done by any adult person:

- 30% feared to be hard-pressed for money and unemployment
- 39% feared a traffic related accident
- 41% feared fire in their house/apartment
- 47% feared a serious illness or death
- 48% feared a forthcoming war
- 57% feared that "something very, very terrible could happen to some family member"

Could it be that our (adult) fears are more projected onto children than I (we) thought?

What about your fears in your childhood, do you remember any?
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Walter Hinteler
Reply Fri 11 Jul, 2003 11:17 am
Links to the above poll are only in German:

a notice in the weekly newspaper "Die Zeit":
"Hausgemachte Ängste"

a longer summary (as pdf!):
R+V Studie: Kinderängste
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Reply Fri 11 Jul, 2003 11:30 am
When I was a child I remember being horribly afraid of attacks by a crocodile or alligator or sharks. That's what comes from an early childhood in Florida, I guess.

As I read the list you posted, I realized that I was also afraid of a fire in our house or that something bad would happen to my parents (not so worried about my siblings).
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Reply Fri 11 Jul, 2003 12:41 pm
When I was eleven--my sister was ten and my brother, eight--my parents left us to babysit ourselves while they had an evening of bridge and conversation.

My mother gave me Briam Stoker's [/B]Dracula to read. I had an early bath and climbed into bed with the nice, new book.

My sister went to bed. My brother went to bed. The wolves howled in the Transavanian mountains. The dog jumped down from my bed and went off to sleep with my sister.

I started feeling a certain crucial curiosity as to whether vampires could come through screens.

My childhood was a secure time and my terror was more a matter of heightened awareness than shivering, bleating panic.

Twenty years later, I prepared for a night out and handed my eleven year old son a copy of Briam Stoker's

In those days children were children and probably less exposed to adult worries. Radio doesn't have the gripping, immediate informational impact of television.

Further, these days children are taken very seriously. I wonder how the questions were phrased. Was there a list of possible fears with the instruction to check any that applied? Did courteous children come up with fears to please the interviewer? Did children assume somehow that fears were "normal" and come up with fears in order to be "normal"?

Was any distinction made as to degree of the intensity of fear? Of the duration of fear? Were these fears constant emotions--or just now and then according to the stresses of a particular day?

The survey itself raises many questions.
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Walter Hinteler
Reply Fri 11 Jul, 2003 12:49 pm
Noddy24 wrote:

The survey itself raises many questions.

As .....?
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Reply Fri 11 Jul, 2003 03:32 pm
Sorry, Walter. I didn't mean to end my last post with a cliff-hanging question.

Still, as I indicated above, I'd like to know more about how the survey was conducted, how the questions were asked, how much leading was done of the test subjects.

The results are interesting--but are they scientific?
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Walter Hinteler
Reply Fri 11 Jul, 2003 04:07 pm
Institute: Institut für Jugendforschung (IJF) (= institute for youth research)

Period: March, 6 - 23, 2003

Interviewed persons: 912 girls and boys from 6 to 14 years in Germany (out of 7.9 million children altogether)

Selection procedure: multi-level quota procedure

Random sample: 96% plausibility

Method: oral, structured, personal interviews with self-contained questions

Interviewers: 389 specially trained and supervised junevile interviewers

This survey is done every two years since 1990. (Yearly for adults)
It's well reputated and used as scientific source. (Like the even more famous 'Shell Youth Study')

I didn't translate the 15 question. (And sorry, if I didn't always use the correct English terminus technicus!)
If you want to know them as well, I can do so tomorrow (time for bed now :wink: ).

Translated from:Survey methods and questions "The fears of children 2003"
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Reply Sun 13 Jul, 2003 02:57 pm
Thanks for clearing up my quibbles, Walter. Once again, I appreciate your research.
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