SC Canada & Leger Marketing Poll: Canadian Perspectives on Children & Work

In October 2012, an online poll was conducted by SCC and Leger Marketing, a polling firm. The online poll was completed between November 8-12, 2012, with a sample of 1,260 Canadian adults aged 18 and older, and 266 Canadian children between the ages of 8 and 17. Assessing Canadian attitudes and perceptions around children and work, this poll was unique in that it captured children’s opinions on children and work, both in Canada and in developing countries. Leger Final Poll Report – Canadian Perspectives on Children and Youth At Work

Key poll findings included:

– Average age that today’s children reported starting work was 11, while adults reported starting work at the age of 15
– Most adults believe their first job was formal employment, however many children have a different definition of work, that includes household chores
– Gender roles in work are now less clearly defined, as boys and girls increasingly fill the same roles at work
– Men are more likely than women to have started to work in order to save for other investments, whereas women are more likely to have started to work to cover basic needs
– Boys feel more pressure from their parents (46%) to work compared to girls (32%)
– 88% of adults believe that work allows children to contribute to society in a positive way
– Children embrace the idea of working while at school
– Adults are more likely than children to believe that girls and boys require different kinds of protection at work; while children are more likely to believe it is more appropriate for boys to do manual labour
– 77% of adults think about children employed in factories when they think about children working in developing nations
– Compared to adults, fewer children have negative preconceptions about work in developing countries, but older children have a more negative view of work in developing countries than younger children
– 87% of adults do not believe that children in developing countries are protected from harmful work conditions by local labour laws or international law

The poll will be used by the program on both a campaign a technical level – as a public engagement tool it will be used to develop educational resources for public outreach events; and as a measurement tool it will be the means for benchmarking public perceptions and tracking change over time. Marking Universal Children’s Day on November 20th, 2012, the poll findings were released on the SCC’s website (, in addition to a press release distributed to major media sources.

Children and Work School Curriculum: Working to Change the World
The poll findings were used to inform the development of a full-length curriculum on children and work, entitled “Working to Change the World” to raise the awareness of students in Canadian middle schools (grades 6-8). Development of the curriculum incorporated collaboration and input from technical specialists, an internal review, and teacher and student feedback from three pilot workshops. This pilot was carried out through a twinning initiative with three SCC University Clubs – York, McMaster and Western University – and two middle schools in southern Ontario – Hamilton and Lawfield Secondary Schools – with 150 students. Through a train-the-trainer model, University Club students were trained in facilitating a 90-minute classroom workshop. The students found the workshops to be interactive and effective, and stated that one of the most interesting pieces of learning that they took away from the workshops were the reasons why children in Canada work. Many were surprised to find out that even children in Canada, and not just in the developing world, work to contribute towards their household incomes.


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