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An initiative to meaningfully involve children in responses to the COVID-19 pandemic

How do children experience the pandemic, from one end of the world to the other? To find out, Terre des hommes, in collaboration with the UN and around 30 organisations, as well as children and young people, created the #CovidUnder19 initiative and launched an international survey. The results of the survey reveal the opinions of children and young people, so that their voices can be taken into account by decision-makers.

A total of 26,258 children and young people aged 8 to 17 from 137 countries participated in the #CovidUnder19 survey. The results published in December 2020 shed light on their opinions: “Children are not as clueless as you think they are. They have a voice, and no voice should be shut out. Being a child doesn't mean our voices are less credible,” said a 10-year-old boy from the Philippines. 


Access to education

More than 60% of children and young people reported that they had access to better education before Covid-19. “I think that during quarantine, the schedule of every child changed for worse, starting with the education, communicating with friends, less time outside, alimentation, spiritual state, etc. First of all, I want to mention the fact that on-line classes did not have the effect and the degree of information and necessary knowledge due to the fact that a lot of children did not have the possibility (financial) to use the internet and the needed device, such as a phone or a laptop. Secondly, the on-line classes done on the mobile phone had a negative impact on our eyesight,” said a 14-year-old girl from Moldova.

“I’m waiting when school will reopen so that I don’t need to work,” said a 13-year-old girl from India.


How do they feel?

Of the children and young people who responded to the survey, 36% feel safer now.

“The best thing about Lockdown is that we are actually being able to understand our family members. My parents used to be busy all the time before this lockdown so now I am getting sufficient time to understand them,” said a 16-year-old girl from Pakistan.

Children told us their three most common feelings during coronavirus were:


Governments, listen to us!

Article 12 of the UNCRC ensures children's right to express their views freely, and to have their views be accounted for and listened to by authorities. However, in the #CovidUnder19 poll, 38% of the children felt that they were not heard when decisions were being made about the Covid-19 crisis.  Take young people’s opinion into consideration, because they are also a part of the community and they should have the right to express themselves,” said a 17-year-old boy from Lebanon.

“They [authorities] should pay more attention to children. Some children can't afford to buy face masks which is bad. Face masks on the market are for adults and few being tailored are for children,” says a 15-year-old girl from Zambia.

“I would tell politicians when they are making laws to do that with the heart of mothers and not of politicians,” concludes a 12-year-old girl from Bolivia.


About #CovidUnder19

The logo of the #CovidUnder19 initiative was created and chosen by children and young people.


In April 2020, Terre des hommes launched the #CovidUnder19 initiative by mobilising a group of young people, child rights activists, civil society organisations and UN stakeholders. The initiative set out to understand children’s views and experiences about life under Coronavirus, and amplify their voices to inform policymakers, professionals working with children, and governments.

In the Spring of 2020, the initiative launched the “Life Under Coronavirus” global survey to understand children’s experiences of the Covid-19 pandemic and their views on how they wish to get involved. The survey was designed with children, for children aged between 8 to 17 years available in 27 different languages alongside an easy to read version. A shorter poll focusing on issues of protection, safety and peer-to-peer support was also disseminated via UNICEF’s U-Report leading to additional 5000 responses from children.

The survey was developed in collaboration with international partners including the Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary General on Violence Against Children among others and involved a diverse group of children from 28 countries at all stages including drawing conclusions and developing key messages.

The #CovidUnder19 Life Under Coronavirus survey was designed in the spirit of the United Nations Convention on Rights of Child. The Centre for Children's Rights at Queen's University, Belfast, employing their unique children's rights-based methodology, designed the survey and analysed and reported the results, working at every stage with children and young people and other partners to make sure that the survey and findings were produced with children for children.


The global results of the survey are available here.

National data is also available for Pakistan (full and fact sheet), South Korea, and is being prepared for more countries.


Follow #CovidUnder19 on social media:





#CovidUnder19 is spreading the word!

Articles with academics, partners organisationa and & young people ​

Life Under Coronavirus: Children’s Views on their Experiences of their Human Rights

Children’s rights in a digital world: Can COVID-19 move governments from evidence to action?​

Partnerships with Children as Core to Partnerships for the Goal (p.10)

Children as agents of positive change (UNSRSGVAC)

Children’s Right to be Heard: We’re Talking; Are You Listening? (Joining Forces)


Virtual events in 2020 and 2021​

Children’s Voice: Maintaining and Adapting for Safe Child Participation during COVID-19 (GPC)

What should aid actors focus on to make data collection processes & tools more child-friendly? (GEONG)

#CovidUnder19: Co-creating with Children to Inform CP Policy and Practice (The Alliance)

Digital by Default: The Covid-19 Generation (LSE)​

Global Mobilisation for Generation Disrupted (World Organisation of Scouts Movement et al)​

Data4Youth (UNDP / Restless Development)​

Experiences, Interventions and Reflections for Protecting Children during a Pandemic (GPEVAC Solutions Summit Affiliate Event)​

UN high-level event on the impact of violence on children's mental health (UNSRSGVAC)

We speak up! A youth-led event during the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (#CovidUnder19)

Building solidarity with young social justice activists (EADI Conference)


Podcasts, videos, and more

Inspiring ways to end violence (GPEVAC) ​

YouthTalks (State of Youth) ​

Covid 4P Log - Child Friendly Invitation to Participate (Institute for Inspiring Children's Futures)


Meet some of us

We would also like to thank the former child advisors for their commitment in the past: Diana, Fariha, Firman, Jeffrey and Naval.



#CovidUnder19 is a broad-based coalition of organisations, academics, youth-led organisations and children.


Co-leads of the initiative