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Children and COVID-19 Research Library

UNDER DEVELOPMENT UNICEF Innocenti's curated library of COVID-19 + Children research

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An investigation of mental health status of children and adolescents in China during the outbreak of COVID-19

AUTHOR(S)
Li Duan; Xiaojun Shao; Yuan Wang; et al.

Published: July 2020   Journal of Affective Disorders
This study investigates the psychological effects on children and adolescents associated with the epidemic in China. Findings indicate that the COVID-19 outbreak has had a significant psychosocial impact on children and adolescents. The presence of clinical depressive symptoms, resident in urban regions, implementation of the precaution and control measures, being female, having a family member or friend infected with coronavirus were associated with increased levels of anxiety.
Smartphone addiction, Internet addiction, family members or friends infected with coronavirus, graduation affected by the epidemic, levels of separation anxiety, physical injury fear, and tendency to adopt an emotion-focused coping style were associated with increased levels of respondents’ depressive symptoms.
Targeted intervention measures could be formulated based on the significant influencing factors on anxiety and clinical depressive symptoms.


The Role of Children in the Dynamics of Intra Family Coronavirus 2019 Spread in Densely Populated Areas

AUTHOR(S)
Eli Somekh; Alexandra Gleyzer; Eli Heller; et al.

Published: July 2020   The Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal
This brief examines the dynamics of coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) transmission within families in the city of Bnei Brak, Israel, one of the most crowded cities in the world and the city with the highest rates of children per family in Israel. Analysis of family clusters in Bnei Brak shows lower rates of COVID-19 positivity in children compared with adults residing in the same household. Children 5–17 years of age were about 61% and children 0–4 years were 47% less likely to have positive PCR results compared with adults older than 18 years of age residing in the same household.
Cite this research | Open access | Vol.: 39 | Issue: 8 | No. of pages: 2 | Language: English | Countries: Israel
Challenges of COVID-19 in children in low- and middle-income countries

AUTHOR(S)
Heather J. Zar; Jeanette Dawa; Gilberto B. Fischer

Published: June 2020   Paediatric Respiratory Reviews
As the coronavirus pandemic extends to low and middle income countries (LMICs), there are growing concerns about the risk of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in populations with high prevalence of comorbidities, the impact on health and economies more broadly and the capacity of existing health systems to manage the additional burden of COVID-19. The direct effects of COVID are less of a concern in children, who seem to be largely asymptomatic or to develop mild illness as occurs in high income countries; however children in LMICs constitute a high proportion of the population and may have a high prevalence of risk factors for severe lower respiratory infection such as HIV or malnutrition. Further diversion of resources from child health to address the pandemic among adults may further impact on care for children. Poor living conditions in LMICs including lack of sanitation, running water and overcrowding may facilitate transmission of SARS-CoV-2. The indirect effects of the pandemic on child health are of considerable concern, including increasing poverty levels, disrupted schooling, lack of access to school feeding schemes, reduced access to health facilities and interruptions in vaccination and other child health programs. Further challenges in LMICs include the inability to implement effective public health measures such as social distancing, hand hygiene, timely identification of infected people with self-isolation and universal use of masks. Lack of adequate personal protective equipment, especially N95 masks is a key concern for health care worker protection. While continued schooling is crucial for children in LMICs, provision of safe environments is especially challenging in overcrowded resource constrained schools. The current crisis is a harsh reminder of the global inequity in health in LMICs. The pandemic highlights key challenges to the provision of health in LMICs, but also provides opportunities to strengthen child health broadly in such settings.
Hear it From the Girls – Asia and COVID-19
Published: May 2020  
The Asia Pacific region has seen significant progress in gender equality in recent years in a number of areas, such as education and political participation. From 2000-2016, the number of out-of-school girls in primary and secondary school dropped by 67 million. 1 The number of females in tertiary school rose by 41 million. From 1990 to 2018 the proportion of women in national parliaments has risen from 8 percent to18 percent. Unfortunately, in other areas, Asia and the Pacific have seen a decline in equality. According to UNESCAP, women’s economic empowerment has remained nearly stagnant and those who are young and in the informal labour market are expected to be hit the hardest. The East Asia Pacific Region is one of the only regions in the world where rates of teenage pregnancy are increasing in low-and-middle-income countries.Any emergency risks increasing existing discriminations and incidents of violence. It also risks losing progress so recently made for girls and young women. The COVID-19 Pandemic is an emergency on a scale not seen for nearly 100 years. 
Effects of COVID‐19 Lockdown on Lifestyle Behaviors in Children with Obesity Living in Verona, Italy: A Longitudinal Study

AUTHOR(S)
Angelo Pietrobelli; Luca Pecorato; Alessandro Ferruzzi; et al.

Published: April 2020   Obesity Society

 The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has had far-reaching health, social, and economic implications. Among them is the abrupt cessation of school programs for children and adolescents in Italy who by mandate had to remain in their homes during the “lockdown” aimed at containing and mitigating spread of COVID19. There are reasons to be concerned about housebound children and adolescents who have overweight and obesity; previous studies have supported the hypothesis that these youths will fare worse on weight-control lifestyle programs while at home compared with when they are engaged in their usual school curriculum.

1).
have supported the hypothesis that these youths will fare worse on
weight-control lifestyle programs while at home compared with when
they are engaged in their usual school curriculum (1)
Promising Practices for Equitable Remote Learning. Emerging lessons from COVID-19 education responses in 127 countries

AUTHOR(S)
Akito Kamei; Javier Santiago Ortiz Correa; Juan-Pablo Giraldo; Mathieu Brossard; Pragya Dewan; Spogmai Akseer; Suguru Mizunoya; Thomas Dreesen

The COVID-19 pandemic has had an unprecedented impact on societies, globally. To help contain the spread of the disease, schools around the world have closed, affecting 1.6 billion learners – approximately 91 per cent of the world’s enrolled students. Governments and education stakeholders have responded swiftly to continue children’s learning, using various delivery channels including digital tools, TV/radio-based teaching and take-home packages for parent or carer-guided education.

However, the massive scale of school closures has laid bare the uneven distribution of the technology needed to facilitate remote learning. It has also highlighted the lack of preparedness and low resilience of systems to support teachers, facilitators and parents/caregivers in the successful and safe use of technology for learning.

Using data on access to technology from household surveys (MICS and DHS) and information on national education responses to school closures gathered from UNICEF education staff in over 120 countries, this brief explores potential promising practices for equitable remote learning.

Cite this research | No. of pages: 10 | Tags: COVID-19 response | Topics: Education | Publisher: UNICEF Office of Research - Innocenti
Parental Engagement in Children’s Learning: Insights for remote learning response during COVID-19

AUTHOR(S)
Akito Kamei; Manuel Cardoso; Mathieu Brossard; Nicolas Reuge; Sakshi Mishra; Suguru Mizunoya

This research brief is one of a series that explores the impact of COVID-19 on education. It focuses on the potential parental role in learning and its association with foundational reading and numeracy skills. Fifty-three per cent of children in low- and middle-income countries cannot read and understand a simple text by the end of primary school age. In low-income countries, the learning crisis is even more acute, with the ‘learning poverty’ rate reaching 90 per cent. In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, 191 countries have implemented countrywide school closures, affecting 1.6 billion learners worldwide. In India alone, 320 million students from pre-primary to tertiary level are affected by school closures. In sub-Saharan Africa, 240 million are affected. With children currently not able to study in classrooms, the importance of learning at home is amplified and the task of supporting children’s learning has fallen on parents at a much larger rate. This is a significant burden, particularly for those who are also teleworking and those with limited schooling themselves.

Digital Contact Tracing and Surveillance During COVID-19. General and child-specific ethical issues

AUTHOR(S)
Gabrielle Berman; Karen Carter; Manuel Garcia Herranz; Vedran Sekara

The response to COVID-19 has seen an unprecedented rapid scaling up of technologies to support digital contact tracing and surveillance. The consequent collation and use of personally identifiable data may however pose significant risks to children’s rights. This is compounded by the greater number and more varied players making decisions about how data, including children’s data, are used and how related risks are assessed and handled. This means that we need to establish clear governance processes for these tools and the data collection process and engage with a broader set of government and industry partners to ensure that children’s rights are not overlooked.
Digital Connectivity During COVID-19: Access to vital information for every child

AUTHOR(S)
Daniel Kardefelt Winther ; David Smahel; Marium Saeed; Mariya Stoilova; Rogers Twesigye; Rostislav Zlámal; Sonia Livingstone

Children’s digital access – or lack thereof – during the COVID-19 pandemic has significantly determined whether children can continue their education, seek information, stay in touch with friends and family, and enjoy digital entertainment. With over 1.5 billion children across 190 countries confined to their homes, active video games or dance videos may also be their best chance to exercise. The rationale for closing digital divides has never been starker or more urgent.

This data-driven research brief explores three research questions. 1) How much do we know about children’s basic access to the internet across the globe? 2) Do children regularly use the internet to access health information? 3) Are children able to verify the truth of online information?

The brief analyzes survey data from the ITU World Telecommunications/ICT Indicators database, as well as household-survey data collected from approximately 22,000 children aged 12-16, generated by the collective work of the EU Kids Online and Global Kids Online research networks. It concludes with recommendations on how stakeholders can ensure that children’s health information needs are better supported during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond

Does COVID-19 Affect the Health of Children and Young People More Than We Thought? The case for disaggregated data to inform action

AUTHOR(S)
Danzhen You; David Anthony; Kaku Attah Damoah; Priscilla Idele

Contrary to the current narrative, the risks of COVID-19 disease in children and young people depend largely on where individuals live and how vulnerable they are to disease and ill health.

It is commonly accepted, at least for now, that children and young people under 20 years of age have largely been spared the direct epidemiological effects on their own health and survival of the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), responsible for COVID-19 disease. This narrative is based predominantly on early data from the countries first affected by the virus, notably China (Wuhan province) and Italy in early 2020, and also from other high-income countries (HICs) including the United States and some European nations. This narrative has conditioned the subsequent screening and testing for SARS-CoV-2 virus in children and young people under 20, which have been notably lower than for other age cohorts in many, but not all, countries. But demographic profiles differ widely between countries, and assumptions and narratives based on evidence taken from ageing societies, typical of HICs, may not hold for more youthful and growing populations, as illustrated by the contrast between the age-cohort profiles of COVID-19 cases for Italy and Kenya. For this reason, and given that the vast majority of the world’s children and young people live in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) and territories, we began to investigate the burden of COVID-19 cases among children and young people under 20 globally.

Research Brief: Impacts of Pandemics and Epidemics on Child Protection: Lessons learned from a rapid review in the context of COVID-19

AUTHOR(S)
Ramya Subrahmanian; Shivit Bakrania

 

This research brief summarizes the findings of a rapid review that collates and synthesizes evidence on the child protection impacts of COVID-19 and previous pandemics, epidemics and infectious disease outbreaks. It provides lessons for global and national responses to COVID19 and recommendations for future research priorities.

The evidence on the impacts of pandemics and epidemics on child protection outcomes is limited and skewed towards studies on the effects of HIV/AIDS on stigma. There is also some evidence on the effects of Ebola on outcomes such as orphanhood, sexual violence and exploitation, and  school enrolment, attendance and dropout. The evidence on other pandemics or epidemics, including COVID-19. is extremely limited.

There are various pathways through which infectious disease outbreaks can exacerbate vulnerabilities, generate new risks and result in negative outcomes for children. Outcomes are typically multi-layered, with immediate outcomes for children, families and communities - such as being orphaned, stigmatization and discrimination and reductions in household income - leading to further negative risks and outcomes for children in the intermediate term. These risks include child labour and domestic work, harmful practices (including early marriage), and early and adolescent pregnancy.

Lessons from previous pandemics and epidemics suggest that the following could mitigate the child protection risks:

  • Responding to children in vulnerable circumstances, including orphans (e.g. throughpsychosocial interventions focused on improving mental health and community-based interventions that provide families with resources and access to services)
  • Responding to stigmatization and discrimination (e.g. throughinformation and communication campaigns and support from public health systems, communities and schools)
  • Investing in social protectionenable livelihoods during outbreaks and to counteract shocks
  • Promoting access to health, protective and justice services, which may be restricted or suspending during infectious disease outbreaks
  • Ensuring continued access to education, particularly for girls, who may be adversely affected

There is a high burden of proof for data collection during the current COVID-19 outbreak than there would be in normal circumstances. Evidence generation strategies during and after the COVID-19 crisis should consider rigorous retrospective reviews and building upon monitoring, evidence and learning functions of pre-existing programmes – particularly where there is ongoing longitudinal data collection. There should also be efforts to synthesize evidence from existing research on the effectiveness of interventions that respond to the key risk pathways identified in this review.

 

 

 

Childcare in a global crisis: the impact of COVID-19 on work and family life

AUTHOR(S)
Anna Gromada; Dominic Richardson; Gwyther Rees

The COVID-19 crisis that has engulfed the world during 2020 challenges children’s education, care and well-being. Many parents struggle to balance their responsibilities for childcare and paid employment, with a disproportionate burden placed on women. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, the situation of families had been described as ‘a global childcare crisis’.

It is estimated that over 35 million children under five years old are sometimes left without adult supervision, a factor often linked to economic pressures on parents to work. With the arrival of the pandemic, 99 per cent of the world’s 2.36 billion children found themselves in a country with some movement restrictions, including 60 per cent under some form of lockdown. This has made childcare an even greater challenge for parents.

Globally, the work of childcare is done predominantly by women. This includes mothers and also other female caregivers such as grandmothers, siblings and workers in the childcare sector. In 2018, 606 million working-age women considered themselves to be unavailable for employment or not seeking a job because of unpaid care work, compared to only 41 million men. This imbalance has major implications for women’s employment and income opportunities and for children’s development and well-being.

UNICEF has previously called for a set of four family-friendly policies for children in the early years, comprising paid parental leave; breastfeeding support; accessible, affordable and good-quality childcare; and child benefits. We have shown that even some of the world’s richest countries fare poorly in terms of these policies, which is a reflection of their policy priorities rather than available resources.

This brief takes a global perspective on one of these four aspects – childcare in the early years. In the current context of lockdown and school closures, lack of childcare is likely to be one of the worst affected services available to families. This paper paints a picture of current progress towards ensuring that all families have access to affordable and high-quality childcare, and considers the implications of the current COVID-19 crisis for childcare globally. We show how governments and employers can help parents to address the
global childcare crisis through paid parental leave, followed by accessible, affordable and high-quality childcare. COVID-19 economic recovery packages have, to date, directed the vast majority of resources to firms rather than to households. This can be changed through public provision of childcare, subsidies, social protection floors and tax incentives.

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UNICEF Innocenti's Children and COVID-19 Library is a database collecting research from around the world on COVID-19 and its impacts on children and adolescents. Learn more.

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COVID-19 & Children: Rapid Research Response

UNICEF Innocenti is mobilizing a rapid research response in line with UNICEF’s global response to the COVID-19 crisis. The initiatives we’ve begun will provide the broad range of evidence needed to inform our work to scale up rapid assessment, develop urgent mitigating strategies in programming and advocacy, and preparation of interventions to respond to the medium and longer-term consequences of the COVID-19 crisis. The research projects cover a rapid review of evidence, education analysis, and social and economic policies.