15 to 17 year-olds in Baghdad and Cairo reveal their opinions in a BBC poll

15 to 17 year-olds in Baghdad and Cairo reveal their opinions in a BBC poll

A BBC World Service global poll of 15 to 17-year-olds has uncovered some radical opinions in teenage attitudes to current news and social issues. More than 3,000 teenagers from ten cities – Baghdad, Cairo, Jakarta, Lagos, London, Moscow, Nairobi, New Delhi, New York and Rio de Janeiro – were asked for their views on terrorism, climate change, immigration, education, religion, population growth and crime.

Half of the Baghdadis surveyed said they would not emigrate to another country to secure a better life – the highest ‘no’ response of all 10 cities in which the BBC poll was conducted. 70% in Cairo said they would emigrate.

The overwhelming majority of those surveyed in Baghdad – 98% – said that America’s ‘War on Terror’ is not making the world a safer place. Also a majority in Baghdad – 64% – said they see religion as a source of conflict while 48% said religious leaders should not be allowed to become politicians. Due to restrictions, these questions were not asked in Cairo.

A large proportion of respondents in both Baghdad and Cairo agreed with the death penalty (76% and 66% respectively).

Over a third (34%) interviewed in Baghdad said they would consider taking action which may result in innocent people dying if they felt strongly about a cause. This figure was 12% in Cairo.

While 60% of 15 to 17 year-olds surveyed in Baghdad said they would marry someone of a different race, only 4% said they would marry someone of a different religion.

Respondents in Baghdad wanted the most number of children (at least four on average) of all the cities polled. The average in Cairo was at least two.

59% of young Baghdadis polled said terrorism was the most important global issue at the moment and half said it was the most important issue to them personally.

In Cairo, 64% of the sample said that to control the size of populations, governments should be allowed to limit the number of children people have. This figure was 36% in Baghdad.

Only 45% in Cairo said that they had heard of global warming and understand it. In Baghdad this figure drops to just 26%. Of those who understand climate change in Baghdad, 97% disagree that it is man-made. Only 4% say they have changed their behaviour to reduce their impact on the environment. There was much higher awareness of climate change in the Cairo sample: 45% had heard of it and understand what it is. Of those, 54% (highest of all cities polled) said they would be willing to lower their standard of living to reduce climate change.

The survey was conducted by research agency Synovate in 10 major cities around the world during October 2006. Over 3,000 teenagers were questioned; all interviews were face-to-face, except in New York where polling took place online.

The poll was commissioned by the BBC as part of a week-long season of special programmes about under 18s called Generation Next.

For more information on the poll and the season, visit bbcworldservice.com.

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Name: Lala Najafova