COVID-19: Children’s voices and activism in times of COVID-19

Date: 1st May 2020
Category: General principles

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World Vision conducted a consultation with 101 children and young people to help organisations better understand their experiences during the COVID-19 crisis; how they would like to contribute to stopping the spread of COVID-19; and how they can be supported, equipped, and encouraged.

The consultation took place in March and April 2020 with children and young people between the ages of eight and 17 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.

Consultation participants were asked to share their views on how the COVID-19 pandemic affected their lives, personally and in their respective countries. They highlighted three main areas which were impacted on a massive scale, these were:

  • School disruption
  • Emotional distress due to social distancing
  • Increasing poverty

Participants noted that the normal methods that children and young people use to raise awareness in their communities, such as through child parliaments, child forums, or children’s clubs were no longer an option in quarantine contexts. Therefore, children’s rights focused organisations, decision makers and professionals ought to support children and young people throughout this crisis to rethink children’s participation, taking a more digital approach, enabling children and young people to conduct peer-to-peer awareness-raising campaigns on virtual platforms, reach adults and other stakeholders, and advocate for social action and social change for the most vulnerable.

Equipping, supporting, and encouraging activism by children and young people is essential, as they can play a pivotal role in raising awareness of COVID-19 and providing information to people, because many participants stated that they are better educated and have greater access to technology and information than their parents and other community members.