The #CovidUnder19 initiative, led by Terre des Hommes, aims to bring together children, child human rights activists, experts and other key stakeholders, including the private sector, to work together in understanding what children are experiencing due to COVID-19 and to involve children in responding to these issues. Global Kids Online is delighted to be part of this initiative, along with many other child rights organizations and NGOs around the world. This is an important time to consider, and hear from, children and their experiences.
The Global Kids Online network examines the factors that influence children’s well-being in a digital world by working with partners in 17 countries using a common survey questionnaire. Our recent comparative results from 11 countries are based on interviews with more than 14,000 internet-using children.
In recent months, we have been thinking about how children are faring under COVID-19, informed by our evidence. One dimension of this experience is that, for those who can access it, the internet is more important than ever – as a source of learning, socialising, play and participation. For example, children are likely to seek information about health, among other crucial issues. But a greater reliance on the internet also brings distinct risks, and the challenges of gaining access to the internet exacerbate prior inequalities and forms of discrimination among children.
The right to information is included in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), along with many others that are affected by the arrival of all things digital. One of the fundamental principles of the UNCRC is that children should be consulted on matters that affect them – and that includes in relation to COVID-19. #CovidUnder19 seeks to create spaces for children across the globe to be meaningfully involved in the discussions about responses to the COVID-19 pandemic and contribute towards shaping the post-COVID-19 world.
Whether they are under lockdown and out of school, in refugee camps or in crowded villages, detained or living on the streets, institutionalized or on the move, children have a right to be heard. Child rights practitioners have a responsibility to find ways of understanding children’s views and amplifying their voices so they can inform policymakers, legislatures, professionals working with children, and governments. This is especially important given the risks that COVID-19 poses to children around the world.
In the short term, #CovidUnder19 seeks to build a coalition of partners, including children themselves, that will gather children’s views on their current experiences and how they see their role as active citizens, emphasizing the positive: proactivity, solidarity, peer-to-peer support, and an empowered role for their future. Based on this, the initiative will accelerate the design of responses to the pandemic in the short and long team, while increasing opportunities for children to interact with each other to collectively create and innovate.
The survey has been developed with input from Global Kids Online and other organisations, with survey design and research ethics led by Queen’s University Belfast. The aim of the survey is to find out how children feel, whether they are able to learn and play, see their parents, stay in touch with their friends, if they can access reliable information and support, and if they are healthy and safe in these challenging times.
The survey is available in many languages (see below). It was developed with 270 children from 28 countries and an international advisory group of 18 children and young people. You can find the survey information, adult facilitators’ pack, and survey in multiple languages, here.
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And, most importantly, please encourage children and young people to participate! Thank you.
Watch this space for the results of the consultation, and to learn more of children’s experiences, in a few weeks.
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Post author: Sonia Livingstone