"The Future We Want": the Manifesto written by adolescents in Italy on post COVID-19 future
2,000 boys and girls answered to the questionnaire proposed by young people for their peers and address a ten-point agenda to national authorities
July 7, 2020 - Young people reflect on the post COVID-19 future and write down their recommendations in the Manifesto "The Future We Want", launched today by UNICEF in Italy.
UNICEF Europe and Central Asia Regional Office and the UNICEF National Committee in Italy with the technical support of the UNICEF Office of Research - Innocenti, in collaboration with national and local stakeholders, involved over 20 young people from the north and south of the country, from different backgrounds and representatives of different realities, in an online consultation. The participatory process led to the launch of an online questionnaire proposed by adolescents to their peers. Among the focuses: their satisfaction with life, relational well-being, economic well-being, education and job access, environment and health. Over 2,000 young people aged between 15 and 19 responded to the survey.
The main results: young people are satisfied with life in general, with the environment and their relationships, but are worried about economic well-being and health.
After the recent pandemic, young people declare themselves satisfied with life in general - attributing 6.5 on a scale from 1 to 10. Looking at life dimensions, economic well-being barely touches sufficiency. They are less satisfied with health (5.9), a perception certainly affected by the sense of insecurity caused by the pandemic.
Girls and boys are satisfied with the environment and with interpersonal relationships cultivated within their family context.
The emergency improved social relationships in the family and with cohabitants.
For 1 out of 3 teenagers, family relationships improved during isolation. Consultations with girls and boys highlighted that with the emergency, the opportunities to spend quality time together has increased, allowing them to look at their family in a more positive perspective. Among the factors influencing the most, the moments of dialogue and time spent in the kitchen.
Almost half (48%) of the adolescents answering to the questionnaire suggest, therefore, to look for more opportunities for dialogue and to respect a better work-life balance in order to improve the relationships with cohabitants.
The relationships at home have changed for the worse during the lockdown for 16% of respondents. The same percentage asks for external support to deal with stressful situations.
Relationships with friends changed for the better for one teenager out of 3, for one out of 4 they got worse. The data shows the desire to turn the laptop off and to find more opportunities to spend time together (almost half of the respondents - 46% - underlines this) and slower rhythms.
The perception of the risk of domestic violence is high. Sixty-four percent of teenagers agree that "Home is not a safe place for everyone." The perception of unsafety is even higher for girls (73%) than for boys (53%).
Among the main solutions identified: training at school, according to 41% of boys and 37% of girls. Trainings and counselling centers are the most popular option when compared to helplines.
They would like to have a better chance to participate in decisions concerning their return to school. Almost half of the respondents (47%) recognized that the school system created a positive environment during isolation. Despite their digital literacy, 6 out of 10 adolescents found that the online tool generated stress, this applies especially for girls.
Regarding their future perspectives with the restarting of schools in September, 41% declared themselves optimistic against a 39% of pessimists.
Among the good practices adopted during Covid-19 girls and boys would like to maintain, the flexibility in the definition of the calendar of lessons (58%), followed by recovery courses for those reporting learning difficulties (37%) and the use of additional online materials to the most classical textbooks. Only one adolescent out of 4 agrees to continue with some distance lessons.
One out of 3 adolescents asks for more scholarships and the integration of education grant – the so called bonus cultura – in order to support the most disadvantaged students. 3 out of 10 teenagers would like more socio-recreational activities to be included in. Also, free sports and artistic camps, maybe because of the new hobbies 25% discovered during the period of isolation.
Health and Environment are considered key to well-being.
65% of the respondents recognizes the importance of a public health system, free and accessible to everyone. But they are also aware that prevention is the key. 5 out of 10 promote proper nutrition and healthier lifestyles. Aware of the importance of the link between environment-health relationship (84%), among the learned behaviors that they would like to maintain, 87% highlight the need to pollute less by decreasing consumptions. If looking at lifestyles during the lockdown, 8 out of 10 teenagers think that bicycles or other green options should be preferred to other polluting vehicles. Also, young people pay attention to activism and participation to global movement in defense of the planet.
Digital solutions brought them closer but they do not substitute human relationships.
Almost half of the respondents to the survey agreed or strongly agreed with the statement "Digital solutions brought us together during the lockdown", but one out of 3 has doubts about it and one in five excludes it, due to difficulties in accessing technologies and wi-fi spots, which in certain cases exacerbated the existing inequalities.
Also, on distance learning, almost 6 out of 10 adolescents had no problems with digitization but over 60% said that the use of online devices increased stress to study, in particular for girls.
Other data collected on the topic – on distance learning, or regarding the preference for physical or digital supportive networks - shows a preference for interpersonal relationships over online ones: counselling centers and awareness-raising solutions in schools are widely preferred to digital helplines.
The future young people imagine is more respectful of diversity and equal opportunities.
The solidarity drive coming out from the results appears quite strong: young people ask for greater commitment in fighting against discrimination and hate-speech, they would like to devote more time to others, overcoming disparities related to origin, disability and gender.
"During this pandemic, young people across Italy showed once again a great resilience and attention towards their most vulnerable peers,” says Anna Riatti, UNICEF Country Coordinator for the Refugee and Migrant Response in Italy. “This Manifesto reminds us the importance for young people to express their opinion and have their voices heard. This is also a good sign of the incredible value that young people bring to their communities. We must have young people actively involved in the decision-making process, listening to their needs and aspirations."
"UNICEF always protects the rights of children and adolescents on the basis of the principles enshrined by the Convention of the Rights of the Child. The post-Covid future is what we leave to this generation, and this is why we need to consider their views," says Francesco Samengo, President of UNICEF National Committee in Italy.
In September the launching of the final report with all the results.
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For more information about UNICEF and its work for children, visit https://www.unicef.org/eca/.