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Pandemic has had ‘a major impact’ on children’s experiences and rights

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A global survey of children’s views and experiences of life under COVID-19 has found that the pandemic had wide-ranging impacts on youngsters’ experiences and rights.

The ‘Life Under Coronavirus’ survey was designed by researchers from Queen’s University Belfast with children, for children aged between 8-17 years and available in 27 different languages. More than 26,000 children from 137 countries across five UN regions participated.

The survey was designed in the spirit of the United Nations Convention on Rights of Child (UNCRC). Researchers from the Centre for Children’s Rights at Queen’s, employing their unique children’s rights-based methodology, designed the survey and analysed and reported the results, working at every stage with children and young people and other partners to make sure that the survey and findings were produced with children for children.

The key findings include:

  • 61 per cent said they were getting a better education before Coronavirus;
  • 56 per cent said they got to talk to their friends less than they would like since Coronavirus;
  • 43 per cent said they felt ‘bored’, 40 per cent said they felt ‘happy’, and 39 per cent said they felt ‘worried’ when asked about their three most common feelings during the coronavirus pandemic;
  • 62 per cent would go to their family members for ‘information that they could trust’ on Coronavirus;
  • 41 per cent said that their family had less money to meet their needs since Coronavirus;
  • 21 per cent said that access to medical help was better before Coronavirus;
  • 9 per cent felt less safe in their homes/where they lived since the start of Coronavirus, 36 per cent felt safer since Coronavirus, and 56 per cent reported feeling as safe as they had done prior to the pandemic;
  • 16 per cent think the media has portrayed children more negatively than before Coronavirus;38 per cent don’t think their government is listening to children when making decisions about Covid-19.

Dr Bronagh Byrne, from the Centre for Children’s Rights at Queen’s University Belfast, said: “Findings show that many children were unaffected during coronavirus and, for some children, things were better. However, other children reported negative impacts since the beginning of the pandemic. Some groups of children were more likely to report negative experiences including children from migrant communities, those living in a detention centre, refugee camp or homeless centre and children with disabilities.”

The Coronavirus pandemic has caused severe social and emotional disruption in the lives of children by depriving them of on-site education. It has also made them feel highly unsafe and stressed within their homes. The results of the survey have been inclusive of the various prospects on what children have experienced during the pandemic.

The coronavirus pandemic has caused severe social and emotional disruption in the lives of children

The survey was developed in collaboration with international partners including Terre des hommes and the Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary General on Violence Against Children among others and involved a diverse group of children from 28 countries at all stages including drawing conclusions and developing key messages.

Publicising the findings allow children and young people to directly share with decision makers and leaders around the world how the pandemic and related measures taken by governments affect their daily realities.

“​I’m getting the opportunity to raise my voice at a time where it has never been needed more, let’s all do this together and raise our voice a little louder​,” said Kenizeh-Juliette, 14, from Pakistan. 

‘A channel for children to communicate’

In a world centred around decisions made by adults, children and their role in decision making, especially during the time of a crisis, must be included. This global survey has also served as a channel for children to communicate the right to participate in decisions affecting their lives to adults.

The survey has served as a channel for children around the world, to portray their thoughts and feelings about the pandemic to the world alongside their message to decision makers and leaders. In its representativeness, this initiative serves as a medium of a global solidarity among children amidst a crisis while also reflecting upon the diverse unity of the children around the world.

Click here for more information on the #CovidUnder19 initiative and the survey results.

Author: Simon Weedy

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