Children in low-income families hit hardest by coronavirus stresses

A new survey finds poorer children don't always have the right tools for distance learning, are more likely to miss out on hot meals during the day, and more impacted by stress.

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File image / Credit: Save The Children Finland

Children in low-income Finnish families have been impacted by the stresses of the coronavirus crisis more than children from wealthier households.

A new survey from Save the Children finds that overall, 27% of children rate their mental well-being as very poor or rather poor during the epidemic; however this figure rises to 43% for children in low-income families.

The survey of 3,000 children also found that 20% had seen a decline in their family’s livelihood during the crisis, while the figure in low-income families was 57%.

“Until now, there has been little information about the situation of children in low-income families, especially during the coronavirus crisis. But now we have concrete evidence that children, especially in low-income families, experience a lot of anxiety and worry” says Aino Sarkia from Save the Children.

The new survey found that 37% of children were worried about how their parents or guardian would cope during the epidemic; and 26% felt the stress on their parents affected the whole family. And 33% of children who responded to the survey felt there was more arguments among the family than before.

Children also reported that it was difficult to maintain social relationships and 55% felt more lonely than before.

Many children left without hot food during school closures

One of the main findings of the new Save the Children survey was the number of children left without a hot meal during the school closures.

While distance learning was a challenge for the vast majority of children – 75% thought their school performance had been hampered by not being in class – children in low-income families were particularly affected by this with 12% saying they lacked the necessary tools for distance learning.

And more than 1-in-10 children from low-income families said they didn’t receive a warm or nutritious lunch during the day.

“It’s important to note that when school meals break again during the summer holidays, these kids are likely to be left without a hot meal again” warns Riitta Kauppinen from Save the Children.

“Continuing contact teaching in schools will ease the situation for only a few weeks. If there were school closures again in the autumn or quarantines concerning schools, the difficult situation would continue for many children.”