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UNICEF Innocenti's complete catalogue of research and reports
Life in Lockdown: Child and adolescent mental health and well-being in the time of COVID-19
SPOTLIGHT

Life in Lockdown: Child and adolescent mental health and well-being in the time of COVID-19

COVID-19 lockdowns have significantly disrupted the daily lives of children and adolescents, with increased time at home, online learning and limited physical social interaction. This report seeks to understand the immediate effects on their mental health. Covering more than 130,000 children and adolescents across 22 countries, the evidence shows increased stress, anxiety and depressive symptoms, as well as increased alcohol and substance use, and  externalizing behavioural problems. Children and adolescents also reported positive coping strategies, resilience, social connectedness through digital media, more family time, and relief from academic stress. Factors such as demographics, relationships and pre-existing conditions are critical. To ensure children and adolescents are supported, the report recommends building the evidence on the longer-term impact of the pandemic on child and adolescent mental health in low- and middle-income countries, including vulnerable populations. To ensure children and adolescents are supported, the report recommends building the evidence on the longer-term impact of the pandemic on child and adolescent mental health in low- and middle-income countries, including vulnerable populations.
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COVID-19: Missing More Than a Classroom. The impact of school closures on children’s nutrition
Blog Blog

COVID-19: Missing More Than a Classroom. The impact of school closures on children’s nutrition

In 2019, 135 million people in 55 countries were in food crises or worse, and 2 billion people did not have regular access to safe, nutritious and sufficient food. COVID-19 has exacerbated these hardships and may result in an additional 121 million people facing acute food insecurity by the end of 2020. Further, since the beginning of the pandemic, an estimated 1.6 billion learners in 199 countries worldwide were affected by school closures, with nearly 370 million children not receiving a school meal in 150 countries. The paper presents the evidence on the potential negative short-term and long-term effects of school meal scheme disruption during Covid-19 globally. It shows how vulnerable the children participating in these schemes are, how coping and mitigation measures are often only short-term solutions, and how prioritizing school re-opening is critical. For instance, it highlights how girls are at greater risk of not being in school or of being taken out of school early, which may lead to poor nutrition and health for themselves and their children. However, well-designed school feeding programmes have been shown to enable catch-up from early growth failure and other negative shocks. As such, once schools re-open, school meal schemes can help address the deprivation that children have experienced during the closures and provide an incentive for parents to send and keep their children, especially girls, in school.
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Inclusion with Protection: Obtaining informed consent when conducting research with adolescents
Inclusion with Protection: Obtaining informed consent when conducting research with adolescents
Published: 2017 Innocenti Research Briefs

Written primarily for UNICEF staff, funders of research, policy-makers, ethics committee members and researchers, this brief intends to provide principles and approaches to the common challenges in conducting research with adolescents. It emphasizes the value of research with adolescents and discusses at length the importance of balancing inclusion and protection, concluding with a set of ethical ground rules and recommendations for research with adolescents and examples on how to apply them.

The brief is one of seven on research methodologies designed to expand and improve the conduct and interpretation of research on adolescent health and well-being in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Building on the recent Lancet Commission on Adolescent Health and Wellbeing, these briefs provide an overview of the methodological quality of research on adolescents. They cover topics including: indicators and data sources; research ethics; research with disadvantaged, vulnerable and/or marginalized populations; participatory research; measuring enabling and protective systems for adolescent health; and economic strengthening interventions for improving adolescent well-being.

Research with Disadvantaged, Vulnerable and/or Marginalized Adolescents
Research with Disadvantaged, Vulnerable and/or Marginalized Adolescents
Published: 2017 Innocenti Research Briefs

Disadvantaged, vulnerable and/or marginalized adolescents (DVMAs) are individuals aged 10–19, who are excluded from social, economic and/or educational opportunities enjoyed by other adolescents in their community due to numerous factors beyond their control. This brief summarizes the health and well-being inequities experienced by DVMAs and the need for research with this group. It reviews the challenges and barriers to their inclusion in research; shares practical implications and best practices for their inclusion in research; and addresses ethical challenges and approaches to research with DVMAs.

The brief is one of seven on research methodologies designed to expand and improve the conduct and interpretation of research on adolescent health and well-being in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Building on the recent Lancet Commission on Adolescent Health and Wellbeing, these briefs provide an overview of the methodological quality of research on adolescents. They cover topics including: indicators and data sources; research ethics; research with disadvantaged, vulnerable and/or marginalized populations; participatory research; measuring enabling and protective systems for adolescent health; and economic strengthening interventions for improving adolescent well-being.

Adolescent Participation in Research: Innovation, rationale and next steps
Adolescent Participation in Research: Innovation, rationale and next steps
Published: 2017 Innocenti Research Briefs

Undertaking youth-led participatory action research is an increasingly popular approach to advancing adolescent engagement and empowerment. This research - led by adolescents themselves - promotes social change and improves community conditions for healthy development. This brief reviews the theoretical and empirical rationales for youth-led participatory action research, its key principles, phases, practical implications and ethical issues.

The brief is one of seven on research methodologies designed to expand and improve the conduct and interpretation of research on adolescent health and well-being in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Building on the recent Lancet Commission on Adolescent Health and Wellbeing, these briefs provide an overview of the methodological quality of research on adolescents. They cover topics including: indicators and data sources; research ethics; research with disadvantaged, vulnerable and/or marginalized populations; participatory research; measuring enabling and protective systems for adolescent health; and economic strengthening interventions for improving adolescent well-being.

How to Measure Enabling and Supportive Systems for Adolescent Health
How to Measure Enabling and Supportive Systems for Adolescent Health

AUTHOR(S)
Russell Viner

Published: 2017 Innocenti Research Briefs

Enabling and protective systems for adolescents are the family, peers and the education and legal systems. In addition to research that focuses on individual adolescents, it is also important for researchers to consider measuring social determinants when conducting research on adolescent well-being. This brief reviews the key concepts of social and structural determinants of health and the methodological issues related to their measurement in adolescence.

The brief is one of seven on research methodologies designed to expand and improve the conduct and interpretation of research on adolescent health and well-being in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Building on the recent Lancet Commission on Adolescent Health and Wellbeing, these briefs provide an overview of the methodological quality of research on adolescents. They cover topics including: indicators and data sources; research ethics; research with disadvantaged, vulnerable and/or marginalized populations; participatory research; measuring enabling and protective systems for adolescent health; and economic strengthening interventions for improving adolescent well-being.

Methodologies to Capture the Multidimensional Effects of Economic Strengthening Interventions
Methodologies to Capture the Multidimensional Effects of Economic Strengthening Interventions
Published: 2017 Innocenti Research Briefs

The economic status of households can and does affect the health and well-being of adolescents. To address the intersection between economic deprivations and broader development goals, including health and well-being, governments, aid agencies and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have begun to include economic strengthening interventions as part of their core programming. This brief presents strategies for examining the multidimensional effects of economic strengthening interventions with a specific focus on the health and well-being of adolescent beneficiaries, highlighting research gaps and opportunities.

The brief is one of seven on research methodologies designed to expand and improve the conduct and interpretation of research on adolescent health and well-being in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Building on the recent Lancet Commission on Adolescent Health and Wellbeing, these briefs provide an overview of the methodological quality of research on adolescents. They cover topics including: indicators and data sources; research ethics; research with disadvantaged, vulnerable and/or marginalized populations; participatory research; measuring enabling and protective systems for adolescent health; and economic strengthening interventions for improving adolescent well-being.

Cite this publication | No. of pages: 18 | Thematic area: Adolescents | Tags: adolescents, empowerment, research methods
Parenting Interventions: How well do they transport from one country to another?
Parenting Interventions: How well do they transport from one country to another?

AUTHOR(S)
Frances Gardner

Published: 2017 Innocenti Research Briefs

This brief, by Frances Gardner, summarizes her team’s recent findings from two global, systematic reviews of the effectiveness of parenting interventions. There is strong evidence that behavioural parenting programmes improve caregiver-child relationships, reduce child problem behaviour, and prevent physical and emotional violence against children. To date, the majority of evaluations that show the effects of parenting programmes are from high-income countries, although there is a growing list of rigorous, randomized trials from low- and middle-income countries. Contrary to common belief, parenting interventions appear to be at least as effective, when transported to countries that are different culturally and in their service provision, from those developed for a specific national or cultural context.

Care Work and Children: An Expert Roundtable
Care Work and Children: An Expert Roundtable
Published: 2017 Innocenti Research Briefs

A first roundtable to explore the issues regarding care work and children was hosted in Florence by the UNICEF Office of Research – Innocenti from 6 to 7 December 2016. Unpaid care and domestic work have often been neglected in both research and policymaking, being viewed as lying within the domestic sphere of decisions and responsibilities, rather than as a public issue. However, over recent decades, researchers across a range of disciplines have strived to fill the evidence, data and research gaps by exploring the unpaid care and domestic work provided particularly by women within the household, and uncovering the entrenched social and gender norms and inequalities.

Does Keeping Adolescent Girls in School Protect against Sexual Violence? Quasi-experimental Evidence from East and Southern Africa
Does Keeping Adolescent Girls in School Protect against Sexual Violence? Quasi-experimental Evidence from East and Southern Africa
Published: 2017 Innocenti Research Briefs

Sexual violence against women and girls is widespread globally. In their lifetime, one in three women will experience intimate partner physical or sexual violence and 7 per cent will experience forced sex by someone other than an intimate partner. This study finds protective effects of educational attainment against lifetime experience of sexual violence among women in Uganda, but not in Malawi. Further, in our pathway analyses, we find large impacts on delaying marriage in both countries. These results suggest that policies aimed at increasing educational attainment among girls may have broad-ranging long-term benefits.

Prevention, Protection, and Production: Evidence from the Zambian Child Grant Programme
Prevention, Protection, and Production: Evidence from the Zambian Child Grant Programme

AUTHOR(S)
Audrey Pereira

Published: 2016 Innocenti Research Briefs

The majority of cash transfers in developing countries focus on conditional cash transfers and typically include beneficiary co-responsibilities as a condition for receiving transfers, such as children’s school attendance or growth-monitoring visits. However, in sub-Saharan Africa cash transfer programmes are mostly unconditional, and have the potential to impact households across a wider range of social and productive domains. This Brief summarizes the Zambian Child Grant Programme and looks at the impacts on recipient households.

The Zambian Government Unconditional Social CashTransfer Programme Does Not Increase Fertility
The Zambian Government Unconditional Social CashTransfer Programme Does Not Increase Fertility

AUTHOR(S)
Lisa Hjelm; Tia Palermo

Published: 2016 Innocenti Research Briefs

This is the first study from sub-Saharan Africa examining the relation between cash transfers and fertility using a large-sample social experiment design and reporting fertility histories of individual women. The findings are important because they provide strong evidence that a social protection programme targeted to families with young children does not create the unintended effect of increased fertility.

Unconditional Government Social Cash Transfers in Africa Do Not Increase Fertility: Issue Brief
Unconditional Government Social Cash Transfers in Africa Do Not Increase Fertility: Issue Brief

AUTHOR(S)
Tia Palermo; Lisa Hjelm

Published: 2016 Innocenti Research Briefs

A common perception surrounding the design and implementation of social cash transfers is that those targeted to families with young children will incentivize families to have more children. To date, however, research on unconditional cash transfer programmes in Africa (including Kenya, Malawi, South Africa and Zambia) have demonstrated no impacts of cash transfer programmes on increased fertility. Examples are given of how some design features capable of minimizing the fertility incentive can be built into programmes.

The Impact of Cash Transfers on Food Security
The Impact of Cash Transfers on Food Security

AUTHOR(S)
Lisa Hjelm

Published: 2016 Innocenti Research Briefs

Vulnerable populations in sub-Saharan African countries often face high levels of food insecurity which disproportionately affect households living in poverty and children are particularly at risk. This review of eight social cash transfer programme evaluations has shown that cash transfers have an impact on several different dimensions of food security. However, few evaluations include child-specific questions and to make stronger links between food security and nutrition status individual-level indicators are needed. Despite limitations, there is good evidence that cash transfers have a large impact on food security.

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Learning at a Distance: Children’s remote learning experiences in Italy during the COVID-19 pandemic
Publication Publication

Learning at a Distance: Children’s remote learning experiences in Italy during the COVID-19 pandemic

Italy was the first country in Europe to implement a nationwide lockdown. Children and their families lived in nearly complete isolation for almost two months. Students missed 65 days of school compared to an average of 27 missed days among high-income countries worldwide. This prolonged break is of concern, as even short breaks in schooling can cause significant loss of learning for children and lead to educational inequalities over time. At least 3 million Italian students may not have been reached by remote learning due to a lack of internet connectivity or devices at home. This report explores children’s and parents’ experiences of remote learning during the lockdown in Italy, drawing on data collected from 11 European countries (and coordinated by the European Commission’s Joint Research Center). It explores how children's access and use of digital technologies changed during the pandemic; highlights how existing inequalities might undermine remote learning opportunities, even among those with internet access; and provides insights on how to support children’s remote learning in the future. *** L'Italia e’ stata il primo paese in Europa ad aver applicato la misura del lockdown su tutto il territorio. I bambini e le loro famiglie hanno vissuto in quasi completo isolamento per circa due mesi. Gli studenti hanno perduto 65 giorni di scuola rispetto ad una media di 27 negli altri paesi ad alto reddito del mondo. Questa interruzione prolungata rappresenta motivo di preoccupazione, in quanto persino interruzioni piu’ brevi nella didattica possono causare significative perdite nel livello di istruzione dei ragazzi e portare col tempo a diseguaglianze educative. Almeno 3 milioni di studenti in Italia non sono stati coinvolti nella didattica a distanza a causa d una mancanza di connessione ad internet o di dispositivi adeguati a casa. Questo rapporto analizza l’esperienza della didattica a distanza di ragazzi e genitori in Italia durante il lockdown, sulla base dei dati raccolti in 11 paesi europei (e coordinati dal Centro comune di ricerca della Commissione Europea). Studia il cambiamento nell’accesso e nell’uso delle tecnologie digitali dei bambini e ragazzi durante la pandemia; mette in evidenza come le diseguaglianze esistenti possano diminuire le opportunità offerte dalla didattica a distanza, anche tra coloro che hanno accesso ad internet; e fornisce approfondimenti su come sostenere la didattica a distanza di bambini e ragazzi in futuro.
Time to Teach: Teacher attendance and time on task in Eastern and Southern Africa
Publication Publication

Time to Teach: Teacher attendance and time on task in Eastern and Southern Africa

There is a learning crisis. Fifty-three per cent of children in low- and middle-income countries are in ‘learning poverty’, i.e. they cannot read and understand a simple text by the end of primary school age. In sub- Saharan Africa, the learning poverty rate is 87 per cent overall, and ranges from 40 per cent to as high as 99 per cent in the 21 countries with available data. Teachers attending lessons and spending quality time on task is a critical prerequisite to learning. However, in sub-Saharan Africa, teacher absenteeism ranges from 15 to 45 per cent. Teacher absenteeism and reduced time on task wastes valuable financial resources, short-changes students and is one of the most cumbersome obstacles on the path toward the education Sustainable Development Goal and to the related vision of the new UNICEF education strategy: Every Child Learns. Whilst the stark numbers are available to study, and despite teacher absenteeism being a foremost challenge for education systems in Africa, the evidence base on how policies and practices can influence teacher attendance remains scant. Time to Teach (TTT) is a research initiative that looks at primary school teacher attendance in eight countries and territories in the Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA) region: the Comoros; Kenya; Rwanda, Puntland, State of Somalia; South Sudan; the United Republic of Tanzania, mainland; the United Republic of Tanzania, Zanzibar; and Uganda. Its primary objective is to identify factors affecting the various forms of teacher attendance, which include being at school, being punctual, being in the classroom, and teaching when in the classroom, and use this evidence to inform the design and implementation of teacher policies.

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