Coronavirus and my life: What children say

Chamberlain, Liz; Karlsen, May Lene; Sinitsky, Gail; Bennett, Stephanie; Plowright, Linda and Vackova, Petra (2021). Coronavirus and my life: What children say. Children's Research Centre, Milton Keynes.

Abstract

At the start of the Coronavirus pandemic, the World Health Organisation (WHO) responded to key questions about the impact of the pandemic on children’s mental health. It highlighted potential anxieties that children and young people may have about the virus and stressed the importance of providing opportunities for them to share their feelings in caring and supportive environments. In response, professionals and parents found creative and child-friendly ways of informing children about Coronavirus as well as supporting them. However, there appeared to be few attempts at involving children in decision-making or at systematically gathering their views and experiences.

As a result, Children Heard launched an initiative in March 2020 for children to express their experiences. This featured an online 16-question interview schedule for parents/carers to use with their children, as a means of facilitating a space for expressions both verbally and through art. After six months, 504 children had completed the survey in one of four languages: English, Icelandic, Norwegian, and Slovenian. Children Heard then invited The Open University’s Children’s Research Centre (CRC) to lead the rapid response analysis of the survey responses. The analysis involved two elements, a quantitative analysis of survey responses and a qualitative multi-phase process of thematic analysis. The focus of the analysis was on the 240 children aged 3-12 (48 Early Years and 192 primary school age participants) who took part in the survey. Children in this younger age group are historically neglected in research and continue to be neglected in contemporary research about Coronavirus and the pandemic. The outcome of the analysis and the collaboration between Children Heard and the CRC has led to this report, which highlights children as competent and agentic interpreters of their own lives and focuses attention upon their lived experiences.

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