WV-Children's Voices in the Time of COVID-19

This research was conducted in March and April 2020 to explore children and young people's reflections and perceptions on the COVID-19 outbreak. The consultation project included 101 children and young people (58 girls and 43 boys) between the ages of 8 and 18 from 13 countries: Albania, Bangladesh, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Mali, Mongolia, Nicaragua, Peru, Philippines, Romania, Sierra Leone and Syrian refugee children living in refugee camps near the Turkish-Syrian border. The project embraced an intergenerational collaboration between two adult researchers and 12 young leaders, ages 13 to 18, who engaged as peer researchers.

Three essential themes that emerged from the data included, (1) changing lives on a massive scale, (2) keeping safe but mobilizing against the expansion of the COVID-19, and (3) exploring what to do next. Across all 13 countries, the respondents highlighted three important factors that directly changed their lives on a massive scale: (a) school disruption, (b) emotional distress due to social distancing, and (c) increasing poverty. During interviews, 71 per cent of the children and young people said that they felt isolated and lonely due to school closures. Moreover, they pointed out that this had a negative impact on their learning and daily routines and increased their sense of isolation and despair. Similarly, 91 per cent of respondents acknowledged that they were facing emotional distress and troubling feelings, including anxiety, anger, and worry due to the uncertainty of how long this crisis will last and dealing with isolation.

Respondents provided a number of recommendations for child-focused agencies, decision makers, adult professionals, and children and young people to integrate into their engagements and strategies so that children and young people are supported to take actions on issues that matter to them.

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