An update on Covid-19 for the kids of Aotearoa

By Julie Spray and Jin Russell

View our full article for KIDS at The Spinoff.com HERE

Are you a Kiwi kid who has more questions?

If you would like more information about Covid-19, here are some resources that other researchers have made for kids explaining coronavirus, and about ways to keep yourself and other people safe.

And, if you have any more worries or questions you would like us to know about, you can email us. Julie is a researcher who talks to children about health and illness, and Jin is a doctor who cares for children.

This update for kids was written in consultation with Lola Huata (age 7), Jessica Brockett (age 7), Alex Williams (age 6), Theo, Violet and Henry Viskovich (ages 6, 8 & 10) and Caden and Lachlan MacDonald (ages 10 & 11).

Kids email for Jin and Julie:

pandemic.generation.nz@gmail.com

A Note For Adults:

Children and young people represent a critical 20% of New Zealand’s “team of 5 million” yet we don’t typically include them in our policy briefings or media messages. We, as researchers invested in child health, know that when children are marginalised, adults can overlook or misunderstand their needs. During the pandemic, children have had to rely on parents or teachers to filter and translate the enormous body of information we have been inundated with. Parents and teachers are often wonderful at tailoring information to individual children. But we want to challenge the assumption that children do not need to be included in our public discourse.  When we aren’t thinking about children as part of our audience, we forget that they’re here. We talk of 90% vaccination targets while forgetting that children under 12 aren’t part of that 90%. We use children as emotional tools to encourage adults to get vaccinated, without thinking of what it means for a child overhearing talk of their vulnerability.

When we forget children we don’t recognise their issues. Children’s issues are often different from adult concerns because children occupy a different place in society. When children are silenced, we get to avoid some hard questions, like how children understand their risk, and what children can do if an adult in their household isn’t vaccinated.

But these are issues that children themselves are thinking about. So we can either think about them together, or leave them to worry on their own.  As American Poet June Jordan said of children, “if we will hear them, they will teach us what they need.”  We want to show how children can and should be routinely included, rather than excluded from society, especially when their efforts have contributed to keeping us all safe.

                                                                           – Dr. Julie Spray and Dr. Jin Russell

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