The impact of COVID-19 on the young and socially disadvantaged

Klaus Hurrelmann looks at the ramifications of the global pandemic for the younger generation.

Klaus Hurrelmann, Professor of Public Health and Education at the Hertie School is collaborating with researchers at the University Medical Centre Hamburg Eppendorf (UKE) on a new study examining the impact and consequences of the pandemic on the mental health of children and adolescents in Germany. The results of the study are expected to be available in around six weeks.

This study is the first of its kind in German, as the survey focuses on children and young people themselves. A total of 1000 11- to 17-year-old children and adolescents and 1500 parents of 7- to 17-year-olds will be interviewed in an online survey. The online questionnaire includes questions about how children deal with the crisis situation, about school, friends and family, psychological problems, such as fear and depression as well as psychosomatic complaints. Family environment, media consumption and eating habits are also part of the survey.

Over the weekend, Hurrelmann commented in AFP about the effect of the coronavirus crisis on children's education, saying it could lead to educational injustice among students. For children who come from homes where a digital setup is ensured, it is easier to study at home for a few weeks instead of physically being present in a classroom. The situation looks quite different for socially and economically disadvantaged students.

“For them, six weeks of summer vacation usually already means a setback in their performances,” Hurrelmann says. “What kind of impact will ten weeks, six months or even more have on them?”  Many children therefore have to rely on support measures from home.

“The secondary schools (Gymnasien) generally manage these challenges better than others – but this means we are immediately faced with a social bias in the current situation,” Hurrelmann says.

Klaus Hurrelmann in the media (in German):,uke660.html


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