“We want to hug a friend”: the covid-19 pandemic among low-income adolescents

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OBJECTIVE: To examine the perceptions of adolescent students from a public school, of both sexes, living in a peripheral region of the city of São Paulo, Brazil, in relation to the covid-19 pandemic, with a special focus on their experiences regarding education and sociability. METHODS: This study is part of the Global Early Adolescent Study. Seven face-to-face focus groups were conducted with adolescents between 13 and 16 years old (19 girls and 15 boys) in 2021. RESULTS: The experience of remote teaching was frustrating for the adolescents, without the daily and personalized monitoring of the teacher(s). In addition to the difficult or impossible access to devices and the lack of support from schools, there is also the domestic environment, which made the schooling process more difficult, especially for girls, who were forced to take on more household and family care tasks. The closed school blocked an important space for socialization and forced family interaction, generating conflicts and stress in the home environment. The abrupt rupture brought feelings of fear, uncertainty, anguish and loneliness. The iterative evocation of the words “stuck”, “alone” and “loneliness” and the phrase “there was no one to talk to” shows how most of the adolescents experienced the period of distancing. The pandemic aggravated the objective and subjective conditions of preexisting feelings, such as “not knowing the future” and the prospects of a life project. CONCLUSION: It has been documented how pandemic control measures implemented in a fragmented way and without support for the most impoverished families have negative effects on other spheres of life, in particular for poor young people. The school is a privileged territory to propose/construct actions that help adolescents to deal with problems aggravated in/by the pandemic.




da Silva Cabral, C., Guimarães, J. S., Teixeira, A., Generoso, N. K., França, I., & Borges, A. L. V. (2023). “We want to hug a friend”: the covid-19 pandemic among low-income adolescents. Revista de Saude Publica, 57. https://doi.org/10.11606/s1518-8787.2023057004778

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