Children's voices are not being heard in coronavirus battle , experts warn

Prof Cath LarkinsProf Cath Larkins
Prof Cath Larkins | other
Children are becoming the unheard victims in the fight against Covid-19, according to a team of leading researchers..

A study carried out across 20 countries in Europe reveals that children are reporting problems related to the coronavirus pandemic.

This ranges from mental health and wellbeing problems to a lack of information, difficulties accessing education or digital technology.

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There are even deeper issues with children in care, vulnerable family situations, poverty or issues such as disability or exposure to sexual exploitation, violence and trafficking.

The study, conducted this month by a team of experts led by the Preston-based University of Central Lancashire, looked at accounts of current practises from 96 children's rights and other involved professionals.

Professor Cath Larkins, director of UCLan's centre for children and young people's participation, said: "This is a time of significant stress and uncertainty for children, and these challenges are taking a particular toll on the most disadvantaged young people in our societies.

But children are also making contributions at the frontline of caring, and are creating solutions."

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The study shows that in almost a third of the countries surveyed , children played a large part in creating and suggesting solutions to help ease or improve their own isolation.

However, there's no evidence that any country has taken on board the young people's views or ideas.

Prof Larkins said: "We are seeing some fantastic work by schools, social care, youth and community groups during this period, and children are voicing their concerns to adult professionals they trust where they still have contact with them. It is time to take these children’s ideas into account and strengthen these initiatives as we consider how to reshape services and education now and into the future.

"We know how to do this – before COVID-19, governments used children's expert advice to inform policy, especially in Wales, Scotland and other parts of Europe. By putting these processes into place now, we can create policies and solutions that are inclusive of everyone."