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Commissioner publishes briefing on BAME children’s experiences of lockdown

Children’s Commissioner’s briefing evidences systematic disadvantages faced by Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) children living in Wales

A briefing, based on the analysis of opinions of nearly 1,500 BAME children captured at the height of lockdown in May, has concluded that the pandemic has amplified the systematic disadvantages facing BAME communities in Wales.

In May 2020, the Commissioner led on a nation-wide survey aimed at capturing the views and experiences of 3 – 18 year olds during the pandemic. Over 23,700 children took part, 6.6% of whom noted they were from BAME communities.

Speaking about the briefing, the Children’s Commissioner, Professor Sally Holland, said the findings would be important for the Welsh Government to plan for any future lockdown measures:

“Several Welsh areas are now under stricter Coronavirus measures and we know how quickly the situation can change. The Government needs to carefully consider these findings so that they can look after some of the most vulnerable children in the best way, however the pandemic develops.”

This analysis is the first of its kind in the UK and includes some statistically significant results, which indicate disproportionately negative experiences for BAME children and young people during the pandemic when compared to White Welsh or British children and young people who responded to the Wales-wide survey.

These include:

7-11 year old BAME children were, in comparison to white Welsh or British children:

  • Less likely to say ‘I don’t need any extra help’, and more likely to say they needed more information and support on a range of factors, including on more things to do at home, feeling happy and well, support with school work online, speaking to friends and family online, and feeling safe at home.
  • Less likely to say they were playing more, and more likely to say they were actually playing less
  • Less likely to say they were exercising outdoors
  • More likely to say the closure of libraries, community centres and not being able to go outside affected their learning.
  • More likely to say they were worried about food security for their family
  • More likely to say they wanted more information on Coronavirus, and more likely to say they want more information on the rules on keeping safe
  • Less likely to say they knew how to get support to feel happy and well
  • Less likely to say they felt happy ‘most of the time’, or safe ‘most of the time’.
  • More likely to say they wanted more support with their Welsh if they attended English medium schools

12-18 year old BAME children and young people were, in comparison to white Welsh or British young people:

  • More likely to say that changes to physical activity, exercise, and their ability to leave the house had affected them most; and more likely to say they want help to eat healthy food and stay active, and to think schools should include this in their learning offer
  • Less likely to say they were exercising outdoors
  • More likely to say they were worried about falling behind with their learning, and about how their exam results could be affected
  • More likely to say the closure of libraries has affected their learning
  • More likely to say they were worried about food security for their family
  • More likely to say they want more information on the rules on keeping safe
  • Less likely to say they felt safe ‘most of the time’
  • More likely to say they were not getting opportunities to use Welsh (of those attending Welsh medium schools).

Commenting on the findings, Professor Sally Holland, added:

“Over the last few months, we’ve heard so much about the barriers faced by BAME people through both the Black Lives Matter movement and the additional negative impact of Covid-19 on BAME people. This analysis provides us with evidence that children’s lives here in Wales have not been equal during this crisis.

“In publishing this report, I want to acknowledge the diversity of BAME children’s lives. Like their white peers, BAME children have had a varied experience during lockdown. But our analysis shows that the pandemic has disproportionately negatively affected BAME children overall in a number of ways.

“I want this work and the views of our BAME children to shape a fair and inclusive society which protects and promotes the human rights of all. The work provides us with a unique insight into their lives, insights which I hope our public services and Government can use to design and shape solutions which will put a stop to the undermining and the diminishing of their rights, which should be protected and upheld by Welsh Government.

“But this can’t just be it. It’s a snapshot and highlights priority areas. I am encouraging the government and public bodies to join me in committing to further work to listen and involve BAME children and young people in finding solutions to these systematic disadvantages – disadvantages that existed before the pandemic and will continue afterwards without action”

Included in the briefing is a series of priorities for Government and public bodies, including work on:

  • Food security
  • Keeping health and active
  • Safety at home
  • Mental health and emotional wellbeing
  • Education and access to technology
  • Better access to information

Saiba, a 17-year old BAME member and co-chair of the Commissioner’s youth advisory panel, spoke about the briefing:

“The Children’s Commissioner’s survey has clearly been hugely beneficial in providing an insight to the range of experiences between children of different ethnic groups during lockdown. The identification of the worries of BAME children will be extremely helpful as it will ensure they will be fairly considered, and hopefully tailored solutions can be made to combat their specific concerns.”

ENDS