Children and Young People Statistics in the pandemic

3 August 2021
Last updated:
3 August 2021

Our findings - Voice

Where children are given a voice, this has largely been through organisations outside of official statistics

A notable gap in the official statistics produced during COVID-19 is the lack of data on social outcomes that give a voice to children themselves. The ONS’s Opinions and Lifestyle survey for example, notably only includes young people aged 16 and over. Therefore, questions on things like ‘worries about return to school and college’ and experiences of home-schooling have relied on the perspectives of adults answering on behalf of dependent children, rather than being answered by children themselves.

However, outside of official statistics, there have been a number of examples of organisations surveying children and young people across a much broader age range. These surveys have endeavoured to understand how children have been impacted by the pandemic, by asking questions about their worries during the pandemic, their experience of remote learning, mental health and social interaction.

Various publications, which are not classed as official statistics, referenced in Annex A of this report, have used creative and original methods to help young respondents express their thoughts and feelings, such as encouraging children to respond with drawings and pictures and varying the wording of questions to account for differences between age groups.

There are also examples of where organisations have considered alternative methods for responding for children without access to electronic devices or the internet. Some non-official statistics have also included coverage of those living in foster care, children’s homes, hospitals, young carers and gypsy and traveller children, as well as those with special needs or those identifying as LGBTQ+. We did not find evidence of these kinds of breakdowns within the official statistics we looked at.

Non-official sources of data and research have an important role to play in contributing to the wider evidence base on children and young people in the pandemic. In some cases, they provide important insight on areas that would not be appropriate for official statistics to replicate. However official statistics producers should consider whether these data highlight weaknesses in existing official statistics that should be addressed.

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