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Act Now: Experiences and recommendations of girls and boys in the Asia Pacific region during COVID-19

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World Vision
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Executive Summary

COVID-19 is currently wreaking havoc on countries around the world. The devastating health consequences of the virus are only the tip of the iceberg. The pandemic’s indirect impacts, such as loss of livelihoods, school closures and restrictions on travel and socialising have far-reaching effects on children and young people’s health, safety, education and well-being. During this period, many children and young people are spending more time at home, with family, and online. In this context, children and young people are at risk of witnessing and/or experiencing violence at home and in their communities, taking part in paid work to help supplement family incomes, early marriage, and encountering online risks. This consultation explores children and young people’s views and experiences related to COVID-19 and its secondary impacts. Firstly, it looks at children and young people’s perceptions of whether they are facing an increased risk of violence during this period and how they perceive this at home, in their communities and online. Secondly, this consultation investigates the ways in which children and young people are working to help stop the spread of the virus and diminish its secondary impacts.

This consultation was conducted from May to June 2020 using a qualitative interview approach. Listening to children and young people is at the heart of World Vision’s child-centred approach and commitment to amplify the voices of children and young people on the world stage. This consultation included 110 children and young people (71 girls and 39 boys) between the ages of 11 and 19 from 10 countries in the Asia Pacific region, including India, Bangladesh, the Philippines, Nepal, Myanmar, Laos, Mongolia, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, and Thailand. The interviews took place in-person with physical distancing, over the phone, and through online platforms and followed the minimum standards for consulting with children and young people developed by the Inter-agency Working Group on Children’s Participation.

This report is organised around three themes which emerged from the data. These themes include: (1) the impacts of COVID-19 on children and young people; (2) their resilient responses to these impacts personally and by their families and communities; and (3) the support that children and young people need to be safe, healthy, and help fight the spread of the virus.

Children and young people from across the Asia Pacific region shared examples of violence at home and in their communities, child labour, child marriage, and online abuse. However, it is clear from this consultation that children and young people are not merely victims of the current crisis. Despite the many challenges they face, children and young people shared stories of resiliency and hope, following best practices to stop the spread of COVID-19, navigating complex home environments, and helping vulnerable people in their communities. However, children and young people cannot do this alone, and they expressed the need for practical help in the areas of health, education and family livelihoods. Children and young people also said that they need comprehensive child protection mechanisms and clear avenues to seek support. Moreover, they want to be listened to and have their ideas taken seriously by decision makers. While the challenges children and young people currently face are immense, this consultation highlights countless examples of their resiliency and activism in the face of a complex crisis.

World Vision thus calls on governments, United Nations (UN) agencies, donors, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), and the private sector to take a collaborative approach to support children and young people around the world.