#COVID19

COVID-19 & Children

Rapid Research Response

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Introduction

As many as 1.5 billion children have lost precious weeks and months of educational progress. Millions of particularly vulnerable children – migrants and refugees, the poor, those affected by violence and exploitation – are being exposed to even higher levels of risk during the pandemic. According to the UN's policy brief on COVID-19 and children, "There are three main ways children are affected by this crisis: infection with the virus itself; immediate socioeconomic impacts of measures to stop transmission of the virus; and longer-term effects of delayed implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals." 

UNICEF Innocenti is mobilizing a rapid research response in line with UNICEF’s global response to provide the evidence needed to scale up rapid assessment, develop urgent mitigating strategies in programming and advocacy, and to prepare interventions to respond to the medium and longer-term consequences of the COVID-19 crisis.

Research agenda

Download Our Research Agenda

SHORT TERM PROJECTS

 

LONG TERM PROJECTS

  • Children’s experiences and views of COVID-19
  • COVID-19 lessons on providing assistive technology to persons with disability in humanitarian response 
  • Children’s online engagement during COVID-19
  • Review of emerging evidence on mental health among children and adolescents
  • A review of evidence from previous health crises on the social impacts on children, families, and communities, including from humanitarian settings and emerging evidence from COVID-19.

 

(Download the full COVID-19 and Children Research Workplan for details on long term projects)

 

EVIDENCE SYNTHESIS

  • Review of emerging evidence on child and adolescents’ mental health in the context of COVID-19
    Review of emerging evidence, interventions, and lessons to inform policy and programmes on children, families, and communities during COVID-19.
  • A review of emerging evidence and implications for programmes and policy.
    An open, searchable evidence repository of scientific evidence related to children and COVID-19.
  • Children and COVID-19 Research Library
    An open-access, fully searchable, and curated repository of the latest scientific evidence related to COVID-19 and children will be made available as a global public good in mid-July.

 

ETHICS

 

 


Download Our Full Research Agenda - Living Document

 

Download Our short summary Agenda


Research publications

COVID-19: How prepared are global education systems for future crises?
Research Brief Research Brief

COVID-19: How prepared are global education systems for future crises?

This research brief is one of a series exploring the effects of COVID-19 on education. It focuses on how school closures affect children and the resiliency of education systems to respond to such disruptions and mitigate their effect.
COVID-19: A reason to double down on investments in pre-primary education
Working Paper Working Paper

COVID-19: A reason to double down on investments in pre-primary education

This paper summarizes the recent UNICEF analysis on investing in early childhood education in developing countries. It provides a benefit-cost analysis of investments in pre-primary education in 109 developing low- and middle-income countries and territories, using data from 2008 to 2019.
COVID-19: How are Countries Preparing to Mitigate the Learning Loss as Schools Reopen? Trends and emerging good practices to support the most vulnerable children
Research Brief Research Brief

COVID-19: How are Countries Preparing to Mitigate the Learning Loss as Schools Reopen? Trends and emerging good practices to support the most vulnerable children

Some countries are starting to reopen schools as others develop plans to do so following widespread and extended closures due to COVID-19. Using data from two surveys and 164 countries, this research brief describes the educational strategies countries are putting into place, or plan to, in order to mitigate learning impacts of extended school closures, particularly for the most vulnerable children. In addition, it highlights emerging good practices.
Childcare in a Global Crisis: The Impact of COVID-19 on work and family life
Research Brief Research Brief

Childcare in a Global Crisis: The Impact of COVID-19 on work and family life

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

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

This rapid review 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.
COVID-19 may pose greater risk to children than originally thought
Research Brief Research Brief

COVID-19 may pose greater risk to children than originally thought

(21 July 2020) 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.
Digital Connectivity During COVID-19: Access to vital information for every child
Publication Publication

Digital Connectivity During COVID-19: Access to vital information for every child

(10 June 2020) This research brief explores data from 22,000 12-15 year old's to answer 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?
Ethical Issues: Digital contact tracing and surveillance during COVID-19
Working Paper Working Paper

Ethical Issues: Digital contact tracing and surveillance during COVID-19

Balancing the need to collect data to support good decision-making versus the need to protect children from harm created through the collection of the data has never been more challenging than in the context of the global COVID-19 pandemic. The response to the pandemic has seen an unprecedented rapid scaling up of technologies to support digital contact tracing and surveillance. As the pandemic progresses, we are also likely to see the emergence of more applications that link datasets as we seek to better understand the secondary impacts of the pandemic on children and their families.

Blogs & Think Pieces

Protecting children from harm during COVID-19 needs evidence
Blog Blog

Protecting children from harm during COVID-19 needs evidence

Although much of the world is focused on the “silver lining” that COVID-19 does not appear to severely impact children’s health, UNICEF is raising the alarm about the potential damage of the hidden impacts on children’s health as well as the indirect socio-economic effects of the fallout from the pandemic. In response, UNICEF Innocenti is generating evidence to assist and inform UNICEF’s COVID-19 work. This blog is about a research conducted by UNICEF on the impacts of pandemics and epidemics on child protection, including topics such as violence against children, child labour and child marriage.
How sport can help keep children engaged during COVID-19: Innovations by South African S4D organizations
Blog Blog

How sport can help keep children engaged during COVID-19: Innovations by South African S4D organizations

This blog is part two of a series highlighting innovative responses to COVID-19 from S4D organizations. UNICEF Innocenti is conducting research on S4D in collaboration with the UNICEF- FCB and Barça Foundation partnership. The first blog in the series discussed innovative responses S4D organizations have taken globally to adapt to the crisis. In this blog, we focus on one country, South Africa – which sets itself apart as a lower-middle income country with the highest number of S4D organizations. This blog explores the challenges faced in South Africa’s unique contexts and different responses to them.
Are we at risk of making the same errors we made at the beginning of the HIV and AIDS pandemic?
Blog Blog

Are we at risk of making the same errors we made at the beginning of the HIV and AIDS pandemic?

(21 July 2020) Like polio before it, unless we continue to monitor its socio-demographic spread, COVID-19 may start out being a disease that first affects more affluent communities and countries but could end up lasting longest and deepest among the world’s poorest countries and communities. In the HIV crisis, age-disaggregated data appeared long after the aggregate numbers or even the sex-disaggregated, leaving child prevention, detection and treatment lagging well behind that of adults.
Spain’s Basic Income Response to COVID-19
Blog Blog

Spain’s Basic Income Response to COVID-19

(1 July 2020) Spain has been hard hit by Covid-19, both in terms of high death toll and worsening economic conditions. Government lockdowns to contain the spread of the virus left millions of households without earnings or temporary unemployed. A recent report anticipates a 13% decline in GDP in the worst-case scenario. This is a worrying prediction for a country characterised by high unemployment and high levels of extreme poverty, even before the crisis. But from this adversity comes an opportunity.
Digging deeper with data: Child labour and learning
Blog Blog

Digging deeper with data: Child labour and learning

Noah Oletey, aged 12, and his brother Vincent, aged 14, work six nights a week on fishing canoes on Lake Volta in Ghana. Noah and Vincent attend school, but only when their work schedule permits it and they have enough money to pay their school fees. As such, their educational opportunities are limited, and their performance at school suffers. The story of Noah and Vincent shows that engaging in child labour can be negatively associated with school attendance and the acquisition of vital foundational learning skills.

In order to speed research and knowledge outputs and commentary into the public sphere the Evidence For Action blogs of UNICEF Connect and UNICEF Innocenti Think Pieces will be published on a continual basis. Both UNICEF Innocenti experts and leading external researchers and writers will frequently publish on these fora. The aim is to feed research commentary into global pandemic discussion and planning efforts for children.

Online events

Webinar: Children Online During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Event Event

Webinar: Children Online During the COVID-19 Pandemic

On 6 May 2020 UNICEF Innocenti hosted the first Leading Minds Online event introducing a new series on Coronavirus and Children: What the Experts Say. Our first event featured Harvard University's professor of global health, Dr Vikram Patel; UNICEF Innocenti lead researcher on child internet use, Daniel Kardefelt-Winther, and other Leading Minds from the US, Pakistan and South Africa.
Webinar: Violence in the home before, during and after COVID-19
Event Event

Webinar: Violence in the home before, during and after COVID-19

On Thursday 21 May at 15:00 CET | 09:00 EST UNICEF Office of Research-Innocenti hosted the second Leading Minds Online webinar series: "What the Experts Say - Coronavirus and Children: Violence in the Home”. The ewebinar looks at why some of the measures taken to contain the Coronavirus could be magnifying the risk factors for violence against children and women - What can be done to prevent violence against children and women and support survivors now and post-COVID 19?
Webinar: Support for Families during COVID-19
Event Event

Webinar: Support for Families during COVID-19

On Thursday 4 June at 15:00 CET | 09:00 EST UNICEF Office of Research-Innocenti launches the third installment of the Leading Minds Online webinar series ‘What the Experts Say - Coronavirus and Children: Support for Families.
Webinar: Remote Learning & Beyond #COVID19
Event Event

Webinar: Remote Learning & Beyond #COVID19

On Thursday 18 June at 15:00 CET | 09:00 EST, UNICEF Office of Research-Innocenti presented its fourth Leading Minds Online webcast series ‘What the Experts Say - Coronavirus and Children: Remote Learning and Beyond’. A panel of high-level experts looked at how the global pandemic and resulting school closures are worsening learning gaps, and deepening the learning crisis.
Webinar: Hand Hygiene for every child during and after COVID-19
Event Event

Webinar: Hand Hygiene for every child during and after COVID-19

On Thursday 2 July at 15:00 CET | 09:00 EST, UNICEF Office of Research-Innocenti presents its fifth Leading Minds Online webcast ‘What the Experts Say - Coronavirus and Children' on Hand Hygiene.
Webinar: COVID-19 and economic impact on children
Event Event

Webinar: COVID-19 and economic impact on children

On Thursday 17 September at 15:00 CET | 09:00 EST, UNICEF Office of Research-Innocenti presented its sixth Leading Minds Online webcast ‘What the Experts Say - Coronavirus and Children' on Economic Impact.
Webinar: COVID-19 and Child Health
Event Event

Webinar: COVID-19 and Child Health

On Thursday 1 October at 15:00 CET | 09:00 EST, UNICEF Office of Research-Innocenti presented its seventh Leading Minds Online webcast ‘What the Experts Say - Coronavirus and Children' on Child Health.

Good reads

A wide variety of research - rapid reviews, preprint papers, expert commentary and peer reviewed reports - is being released on a daily basis in an effort to rapidly build knowledge and evidence about how to respond to the coronavirus pandemic. UNICEF Innocenti will continually update this space with a selection of the best and latest contributions that are relevant to COVID-19's impact on children. Research writings presented here may not be endorsed by UNICEF.

Determining the optimal strategy for reopening schools, the impact of test and trace interventions
Article Article

Determining the optimal strategy for reopening schools, the impact of test and trace interventions

As lockdown measures to slow the spread of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection begin to ease in the UK, it is important to assess the impact of any changes in policy, including school reopening and broader relaxation of physical distancing measures. We aimed to use an individual-based model to predict the impact of two possible strategies for reopening schools to all students in the UK from September, 2020, in combination with different assumptions about relaxation of physical distancing measures and the scale-up of testing.
Child malnutrition and COVID-19: the time to act is now
Article Article

Child malnutrition and COVID-19: the time to act is now

The COVID-19 pandemic is undermining nutrition across the world, particularly in low-income and middle-income countries (LMICs).1 The worst consequences are borne by young children. Some of the strategies to respond to COVID-19—including physical distancing, school closures, trade restrictions, and country lockdowns—are impacting food systems by disrupting the production, transportation, and sale of nutritious, fresh, and affordable foods, forcing millions of families to rely on nutrient-poor alternatives. Strained health systems and interruptions in humanitarian response are eroding access to essential and often life-saving nutrition services.2 Social protection systems in many LMICs are overloaded as vulnerable families struggle to access the food and services they need in the context of an economic downturn.
Pressures and influences on school leaders as policy makers during COVID-19
Article Article

Pressures and influences on school leaders as policy makers during COVID-19

Pressure and influences on school leaders as school policy makers during COVID-19 have made the task of interpreting, translating and implementing guidance more a complex and essential operation. School leaders need to prioritise and balance ever-changing government policy advice, against limitations of school buildings, the welfare of students and staff as well as the needs of the communities their schools serve. By surveying and interviewing headteachers, senior leaders and governors, this paper identifies the inputs school leaders have had to react and respond to when creating policy in the context of COVID-19. The paper addresses the nature of, and factors affecting, pressures school leaders feel in authoring policy. The considerable challenges school-based policy makers face in implementing social distancing policy are non-trivial and increase tension to what is already highly stressful work. The report draws on data collected from a randomised, stratified sample of primary and secondary school leaders from across England in early June 2020, during the time of social distancing and school closure for most students. Findings suggest quality, quantity and frequency of top-down communication have contributed to school leader stress, while horizontal communication and collaboration between school leaders and across school communities helped to support leaders during rapid change. We recommend government and the education sector address communication, collaboration and change, to harness the challenges and opportunities identified by school leaders during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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