Children and Young People’s Voices in Times of COVID-19: Voices of children and young people in the United Kingdom (Milton Keynes) and World Vision International’s young leaders programme

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World Vision International,World Vision UK

This research is part of World Vision’s global campaign ‘It Takes A World to End Violence Against Children’ which seeks to see an end to all forms of violence against children everywhere. We gathered 110 children and young people online from 14 countries (Albania, Bangladesh, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Mali, Mongolia, Nicaragua, Peru, Philippines, Romania, Sierra Leone, Syrian children and young people living in refugee camps near the Turkish-Syrian border and the United Kingdom) to discuss COVID-19 and the impact it’s had on their lives.

The report explores children and young people’s views and experiences during the COVID-19 outbreak, their ideas on how to engage in online community-based activities to support their peers and communities, and their thoughts on how to raise awareness on protective measures against COVID-19. Although the children and young people came from a wide range of backgrounds, contexts, and countries, their experiences and actions in the face of COVID-19 fell within common themes.

The findings found two major themes: the first was that children and young people’s lives had been changed on a massive scale. Across all 14 countries the interviewees identified four dimensions that changed children and young people’s lives on a vast scale: school disruption, emotional distress due to social distancing, increasing violence, and increasing poverty.

The second key theme showed that even though children and young people were keeping safe, they wanted to mobilise against the expansion of COVID-19. Children and young people were fully aware of current events surrounding the pandemic and were abiding by the regulations and quarantines imposed by their governments. However, they expressed a desire to find ways to help and support others, such as raising awareness and supporting their peers, even though they knew they needed to find new ways to do so online to comply with movement restrictions.

The findings of this study underline the importance of recognising children and young people’s understanding of crises and the need to support meaningful spaces and partnerships with children and young people to help them take action to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

In every country, the child respondents highlighted the need to focus on the most vulnerable populations. They said governments, civil society, and non-governmental organisations need to consider their voices in their responses to this crisis.

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