Exploring the Covid-19 Pandemic’s Impact on Children and Adolescents: Understanding the Ethical and Educational Dimensions of Loss

Studies in Philosophy and Education 42 (1):1-3 (2023)
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Abstract

Adolescence is a valuable phase of life, not just because it is the phase of learning in school and preparing for a working life. During the COVID-19 pandemic it became clear that the rights, experiences, and lifeworlds of adolescents are considered less important than the needs of school, work, and productivity. However, there is an ethical claim for people to have a good adolescence, and this means that the losses of social contact, experiences, time, and space demanded of adolescents, in order to protect older and vulnerable groups during the COVID-19 pandemic, should be taken seriously. A distinctive quality of adolescence is that it cannot be repeated, nor can these experiences be replicated as adults. First experiences of independence, friendship, love, informality, recklessness, and youthful exuberance are intrinsically valuable and cannot be substituted for later in life. It is therefore not surprising that adolescents have sought and found their own spaces during the pandemic, some of them forbidden, because lock downs and closed social spaces have relegated them to the confines of their childhood bedrooms. In this paper, I explore an ethic of a good adolescence, which was impacted on by the COVID-19 pandemic, and consider what can be learned from this situation. Adolescents are to be taken seriously, their experiences are no less valuable than those of adults, and the losses they have suffered for the benefit of others should be honored. As far as possible, young people should be supported to have a voice in public discourse and in finding spaces to be adolescents.

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