Press Release

91% of Children surveyed by World Vision felt distressed by COVID-19


- 91% of children and young people feel emotional distress or are facing troubling experiences

- 75% find it emotionally challenging to deal with physical and social distancing restrictions

- Despite having difficult emotions, children feel a strong need to contribute to the fight against the spread of COVID-19


World Vision interviewed 101 children and young people from focus groups in 13 developing countries over the past two months to understand the impact COVID-19 has had on them. While the Children’s voices in the time of COVID-19 survey uncovered that the children are distressed and anxious, it also found that they are determined to contribute to the fight against the global pandemic.

The respondents highlighted three important factors that directly changed their lives on a massive scale: school disruption, emotional distress due to social distancing, and increasing poverty. 71 percent of the children and young people said that they felt isolated and lonely due to school closures.

“Children and young people are disproportionately affected by COVID-19 with school closures and loss of access to their social safety nets. As lockdowns spread, the most vulnerable children, without access to technology, have no access to education as some of their peers do. Additionally, hundreds of millions of students are not receiving school meals, and many parents are unable to provide food after losing their jobs and livelihoods. They tell us they are unable to contact friends and relatives, leading to confusion, anxiety, and sometimes despair,” said Dana Buzducea, World Vision’s Partnership Leader for Advocacy and External Engagement.

Poverty and limited access to clean water are on-going problems in many of the countries surveyed. COVID-19 has exacerbated the situation, leading to anxiety among children. 91 percent of the respondents acknowledged that they were facing emotional distress and difficult emotions, including anxiety, anger, and worry due to the uncertainty of how long this crisis and isolation will last.

Anita, a sixteen-year-old from Democratic Republic of Congo, which has also been impacted by Ebola, explained, “I do not like this situation. We wanted to announce the end of Ebola, but now coronavirus is coming. We no longer study. We no longer go to church, and we are unable to participate in meetings. Isolation will bring starvation that can kill us, despite the fact that it will help protect us from the virus.”

Lara from Brazil, aged 17, said, “One of the most important recommendations is hand-washing. However, we don’t have enough water. Many households here can only access to water once a week. How are these people going to have opportunities for good hygiene? They can’t! The number of infections will be rising.”

Despite having difficult emotions, children and young people felt a strong need to contribute to the fight against the spread of COVID-19 in their own communities. They stated that it was very important for them to get involved in raising awareness of protecting people from the spread of the virus, using online and other remote collaboration systems.

“Children are not helpless and hidden victims of this pandemic. They are powerful agents of change, capable of interacting with others and positively shape their environment. When children and young people can participate in societal change, it increases their self-confidence and reduces the sense of lack of control, and they are able to cope with difficult situations better,” said Dana Buzducea.

“This survey shows that while children have clearly been impacted by the effects of COVID-19, this has not diminished their desire and ability to help and improve the situation in their communities. It is essential that they are empowered to do so, in order to make a real positive difference now and in the future.”


Note to editor: About the Children’s voices in the time of COVID-19 survey: The research was conducted in March and April 2020 to explore children and young people’s reflections and perceptions on the COVID-19 outbreak. It surveyed 101 children and young people (58 girls and 43 boys) between the ages of 8 and 18. They are from 13 countries, which included Albania, Bangladesh, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Mali, Mongolia, Nicaragua, Peru, Philippines, Romania, Sierra Leone, and also Syrian refugee children living in refugee camps near the Turkish-Syrian border.

Read the full report here: Children’s voices in the time of COVID-19 survey

Published on 4 May 2020

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