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UNICEF Innocenti's complete catalogue of research and reports
Best of UNICEF Research 2021
SPOTLIGHT

Best of UNICEF Research 2021

Best of UNICEF Research showcases the most rigorous, innovative and impactful research produced by UNICEF offices worldwide. While evidence highlights emerging issues, it also informs decisions and provides policy and programme recommendations for governments and partners to improve children’s lives. This ninth edition brings together 11 powerful studies from around the world and across the five Strategic Goal Areas. How do South Asian youth feel about entering the world of work? What is the effect of climate-related hazards on access to healthcare? How has COVID-19 affected children and their families in the Republic of Moldova? With social and economic inequalities increasing and progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals lagging, rigorous research – answers to these questions – has never mattered more.
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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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Evidence matters – now more than ever: Results from a review of UNICEF’s evidence on COVID-19 and child protection
Evidence matters – now more than ever: Results from a review of UNICEF’s evidence on COVID-19 and child protection
Published: 2021 Innocenti Working Papers

There is no question that the COVID-19 pandemic is disrupting the lives and rights of children. Early on, the pandemic rapidly sparked research on child protection across the globe. In the barrage of information on COVID-19, evidence is key to understanding children’s situations and to developing the best solutions. 

This review takes stock of UNICEF’s rapidly evolving evidence base on COVID-19 and child protection and describes what has been learned so far from this evidence base on the impacts of COVID-19 on child protection and the response measures put in place since the pandemic.

Cite this publication | No. of pages: 33 | Thematic area: Child Protection | Tags: child protection, COVID-19, research
Child Marriage and Ethiopia’s Productive Safety Net Program: Analysis of protective pathways in the Amhara region
Child Marriage and Ethiopia’s Productive Safety Net Program: Analysis of protective pathways in the Amhara region
Published: 2020 Innocenti Research Report

Emerging evidence suggests that social protection programmes can have a positive role in delaying marriage for girls. But the pathways and design features by which programmes may influence child marriage outcomes remain unknown. This mixed-methods study explores whether and how the Productive Safety Net Program (PSNP) in Ethiopia, given its national reach and potential to address poverty, can also affect child marriage practice. It draws on descriptive quantitative and qualitative data from an ongoing impact evaluation of the Integrated Safety Net Program (ISNP) pilot in the Amhara region. 

It finds that PSNP, through an economic channel, is effective in reducing financial pressures on families to marry off girls and in improving girls’ education opportunities. Income-strengthening measures must, however, be accompanied by complementary efforts – including girls’ empowerment, awareness-raising and legal measures – to transform deep-rooted social and gender norms and attitudes that perpetuate the harmful practice of child marriage.  

Child Marriage and Ethiopia’s Productive Safety Net Program: Analysis of protective pathways in the Amhara region – Summary of report findings
Child Marriage and Ethiopia’s Productive Safety Net Program: Analysis of protective pathways in the Amhara region – Summary of report findings
Published: 2020 Innocenti Research Briefs

Emerging evidence suggests that social protection programmes can have a positive role in delaying marriage for girls. But the pathways and design features by which programmes may influence child marriage outcomes remain unknown. This mixed-methods study explores whether and how the Productive Safety Net Program (PSNP) in Ethiopia, given its national reach and potential to address poverty, can also affect child marriage practice. It draws on descriptive quantitative and qualitative data from an ongoing impact evaluation of the Integrated Safety Net Program (ISNP) pilot in the Amhara region. 

It finds that PSNP, through an economic channel, is effective in reducing financial pressures on families to marry off girls and in improving girls’ education opportunities. Income-strengthening measures must, however, be accompanied by complementary efforts – including girls’ empowerment, awareness-raising and legal measures – to transform deep-rooted social and gender norms and attitudes that perpetuate the harmful practice of child marriage. 

Interventions to Reduce Violence against Children in Low- and Middle-income Countries. Pillar 5: Income and economic strengthening
Interventions to Reduce Violence against Children in Low- and Middle-income Countries. Pillar 5: Income and economic strengthening
Published: 2020 Innocenti Research Briefs
The production of evidence on interventions for reducing violence against children (VAC) has steadily increased over the years. Yet, gaps exist that need to be addressed when it comes to research investment priorities and future studies. An Evidence Gap Map provides an overview of available evidence on the topic and eight briefs summarize the findings. This brief focuses on ‘Income and economic strengthening' interventions to reduce violence against children in low- and middle-income countries. All technical details can be reviewed in the main report.
What is encryption and why does it matter for children?
What is encryption and why does it matter for children?
Published: 2020 Innocenti Research Briefs

Encryption encodes information so that it can only be read by certain people. ‘End-to-end’ is a robust form of encryption where only the users communicating can read the information. In other words, third parties – such as service providers – cannot decrypt the information.

It matters for children because while it protects their data and right to privacy and freedom of expression, it also impedes efforts to monitor and remove child sexual abuse materials and to identify offenders attempting to exploit children online.

Encryption, Privacy and Children’s Right to Protection from Harm
Encryption, Privacy and Children’s Right to Protection from Harm
Published: 2020 Innocenti Working Papers

This working paper provides a short overview of the challenges and opportunities related to child protection and the use of encryption technology. While it does not constitute the UNICEF organizational position on the topic, it is meant to inform UNICEF on the issue and to reach and engage professionals, including nonexperts, within and between the child rights and privacy rights sectors.

This paper will provide an overview of the debate around encryption and its possible impact on children’s right to protection from harm. It also reflects on the pros and cons of some proposed solutions.

Impacts of Pandemics and Epidemics on Child Protection: Lessons learned from a rapid review in the context of COVID-19
Impacts of Pandemics and Epidemics on Child Protection: Lessons learned from a rapid review in the context of COVID-19
Published: 2020 Innocenti Working Papers

 

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.

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.

 

 

 

Study Protocol: Impacts of Pandemics and Epidemics on Child Protection Lessons learned from a rapid review in the context of COVID-19
Study Protocol: Impacts of Pandemics and Epidemics on Child Protection Lessons learned from a rapid review in the context of COVID-19
Published: 2020 Innocenti Working Papers

 

This protocol details the aims, scope and methodology used for the rapid review titled: “Impacts of Pandemics and Epidemics on Child Protection: Lessons learned from a rapid review in the context of COVID-19."

 

Cite this publication | No. of pages: 18 | Thematic area: Child Protection | Tags: COVID-19
COVID-19 and Children, in the North and in the South
COVID-19 and Children, in the North and in the South
Published: 2020 Innocenti Discussion Papers
This paper aims to document the likely direct and indirect impacts of the COVID-19 crisis in developed and developing countries. It also aims to identify potential urgent measures to alleviate such impacts on children. Thirty-three years after the UNICEF report, 'Adjustment with a Human Face', the authors warn of the effects of the pandemic which are likely to be considerable and comparable to the recession and debt crisis of the 1980s. The heavy costs for children can only be avoided with systematic and concerted efforts on the part of governments and the international community, to provide extensive financial and social support for the poor, and to invest in the health and education systems, in order to offset the negative impact of the virus-induced recession.
The Sale and Sexual Exploitation of Children: Digital Technology
The Sale and Sexual Exploitation of Children: Digital Technology
Published: 2020 Miscellanea

As access to Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) increases, so too do the risks posed to children. Popular ICTs, like mobile phones and the internet, can enable and facilitate sexual crimes against children, including the production and dissemination of child sexual abuse materials and the facilitation of child prostitution.

The scale of the problem is difficult to ascertain with precision. However, in 2018 alone, 18.4 million referrals of child sexual abuse material were made by US technology companies to the National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children.

When addressing the issue, children’s own experiences and perspectives need to be considered. For the most part, the use of ICTs can generate positive benefits for children. Addressing the root causes of children’s vulnerability therefore requires a rights-based and holistic approach. Priorities include more and better evidence on the role of ICTs in facilitating or enabling the sale and sexual exploitation of children; clear terminology; new and improved legislation to help end the sale and sexual exploitation of children; and a multi-sectoral collaborative response.

The Sale and Sexual Exploitation of Children: Migration
The Sale and Sexual Exploitation of Children: Migration
Published: 2020 Miscellanea

36.1 million children were international migrants in 2018 alone, often forced to move for a range of reasons, with or without families. Children who are migrating, especially if unaccompanied, face increased risk of being subjected to violence, including sexual violence, exploitation, and human trafficking. Their vulnerability is exacerbated by limited access to safe migration pathways, services, and justice. When they reach a destination country, they may encounter other difficulties, such as discrimination and limited access to basic services, making them extremely vulnerable to sale and sexual exploitation.

Migrant children face harsh realities that are characterized by multiple intersecting and overlapping issues. Even though they may show resilience and agency in dealing with difficult circumstances, the emotional, mental, and physical toll of uncertain and often arduous journeys may undermine their ability to protect themselves, making them even more vulnerable to violence, abuse, and exploitation.

Children left behind when families, especially one or both parents, migrate also face additional (and often hidden) vulnerabilities, and need to be included in research, policies and actions.

While various Conventions, Protocols, and Compacts offer some protection to migrant children, more needs to be done, including: an integrated approach to complex vulnerabilities; improved access to information and education for children; risk mitigation through awareness campaigns and prevention mechanisms; adequate access to resources; and expanding national child protection measures to include children on the move and those left behind in the context of migration and displacement.

The Sale and Sexual Exploitation of Children: Sport and Sporting Events
The Sale and Sexual Exploitation of Children: Sport and Sporting Events
Published: 2020 Miscellanea

Sport has a powerful effect on children’s well-being and can promote greater physical health, emotional and mental balance, and help children develop important skills. But sport can also expose children to grievous harm and violence.

At the extreme end is the sale of athletes, especially in major sports like football. Child athletes can easily fall victim to human trafficking, sometimes for the purposes of economic or sexual exploitation.

Everyday participation in sport can also expose children to violence and harm. Instructors and coaches typically enjoy substantial impunity due to their authoritative role and the great pressure exerted on children to perform, often with the support of parents who are unaware of the exposure to harm.

The interconnectedness of sport and the sale and sexual exploitation of children is a relatively unexplored issue that deeply affects their life experiences. While Conventions and Optional Protocols provide guidance, not enough research is available to inform actions, and laws are not fully equipped to regulate what is often a lucrative business.

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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.
Vite a Colori: Esperienze, percezioni e opinioni di bambinə e ragazzə sulla pandemia di Covid-19 in Italia
Publication Publication

Vite a Colori: Esperienze, percezioni e opinioni di bambinə e ragazzə sulla pandemia di Covid-19 in Italia

Il rapporto Vite a Colori racconta le esperienze, percezioni ed opinioni di un gruppo di adolescenti sul primo anno di pandemia di Covid-19 in Italia cercando di comprendere le loro esperienze e punti di vista, attraverso le loro parole. La raccolta dati si è svolta tra febbraio e giugno 2021 con 114 partecipanti tra i 10 e i 19 anni, frequentanti le scuole superiori del primo e del secondo ciclo di 16 regioni italiane. Bambinɘ e ragazzɘ che si identificano come LGBTQI+, minori stranieri non accompagnati (MSNA) e adolescenti con background socioeconomico svantaggiato sono stati deliberatamente inclusi nel campione interessato dalla ricerca

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