Youths report feeling sad, afraid of novel coronavirus during pandemic: survey

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TORONTO — Most Canadian teenagers say they’re experiencing feelings of sadness due to COVID-19, a new survey has found, while youths from immigrant or visible minority backgrounds are more likely to fear how the virus will impact them or their family.

The Social Impacts of COVID-19 on Canadian Youth, released Thursday, asked kids aged 12 to 17 about their feelings, behaviours and attitudes during the global pandemic.

According to the study, 72 per cent of kids aged 15-17 reported feeling sad often or sometimes, while 59 per cent of youth in the 12-14 age category did.

Kids, however, also reported feelings of happiness, with 89 per cent of respondents in the 12-14 age group saying they felt happy, compared to 84 per cent of kids 15-17.

The study also found that visible minority, immigrant youth, and youth with disabilities are both significantly more fearful of catching the virus and more fearful of immediate family members catching it.

Fifty-two per cent of visible minority and immigrant kids said they were afraid of catching the novel coronavirus versus 34 per cent of non-visible minority kids. There was also a gap around the fear of an immediate family member catching it — 80 per cent versus 68 per cent.

And while the majority of youths are doing less than four hours of school work a week, they also miss being in the classroom.

The web study, conducted by the Association for Canadian Studies’ COVID-19 Social Impacts Network, in partnership with Experiences Canada and the Vanier Institute of the Family, was conducted between April 29 and May 5, and had 1,191 respondents, making it the largest and most detailed nation-wide COVID-19 survey of that age group.

Lori Ewing, The Canadian Press