Seven lessons about prioritizing the needs of children from Norway’s response to the pandemic.
Norway has had a pretty good pandemic — a low per capita death toll and minimal socio-economic disruption compared to other European countries — but what has gone largely unnoticed outside the country was a strong determination to shield children from the negative effects of pandemic restrictions. Norway’s pandemic response strove to protect children not only from the virus, but also the collateral damage of restrictions.
Policymakers should learn from Norway’s child-centered pandemic response. In this piece, I submit seven important lessons from the country’s second Coronavirus Commission report, which paid significant attention to the impact of the pandemic on children and schools.
Lesson One: Governments must acknowledge the vulnerability of children during a social or public health crisis and explicitly plan to protect children from the collateral damage of restrictions. Norway explicitly made it a “government objective” to “protect children from some of the effects of restrictions.”
Lesson Two: It is important to guarantee that children have representation in the government’s pandemic response so that their needs aren’t discarded or ignored. On April 2, 2020, Norway launched a cross-government “coordination group to monitor the situation of vulnerable children and young people.” The group consisted of civil servants representing the following sectors: health; education; police; migrant integration and diversity; labor and welfare; and children, youth and families.
Lesson Three: Governments must constantly monitor the well-being of children during the pandemic and inform relevant policymakers about unmet needs. Norway’s coordination group had the mandate to update the country’s children and families minister every two weeks about the status of vulnerable children and young people. This coordination group had a kind of institutional advocacy role in the Norwegian government to advance the rights of children. Did Donald…