I am delighted to send this message to all those who have already shown a keen interest in the recently formed International Society for Research on Children and Youth. Even though this initiative was conceived before the breakout of the Covid19 pandemic, now it is quite clear that the mobilization of researchers and practitioners concerned with the wellbeing of children and empowerment of youth at national and international levels has become all the more important in view of the new issues that the pandemic has given rise to. While the pandemic affects the day to day lives of all segments of the population in most countries today, its impact on children and youth is particularly significant.
As is well known, the closing down of general education institutions has interrupted educational participation of children and youth, confining them to the domestic sphere, shutting down of technical and higher education institutions has created a sense of uncertainty and frustration in the minds of youth. While many already employed youth have lost their jobs, very high levels of unemployment in all parts of the world no doubt present a gloomy picture for youth who are looking for opportunities for socio-economic advancement. Being confined to homes, both children and youth remain deprived of outdoor activities that are critically important for their physical, intellectual and psychological development.
On the other hand, even under normal conditions, diverse social and economic circumstances under which children and youth grow up and live vary widely. This diversity has become more pronounced under the pandemic. This is particularly so in the case of children and youth whose families have been adversely affected by the pandemic by way of loss of income, displacement or even death of family members due to Covid19.
It is against the above background that the academics, researchers and practitioners actively engaged in research and other activities relating to children and youth need to think hard to figure out how they could pay special attention to the new situation in their work, while pursuing their long term research and other interests in the field. One major issue is how to minimize the adverse impact of the pandemic on children and youth. How to develop strategies that can reduce harmful impacts of the socio-economic fallout of the pandemic on children and youth?. This is important because such interventions can mitigate the long term negative impacts on them. As is well known, the pandemic is going to be around at least for a year or two and this is a significantly long period in the lives of children and youth. Hence the need for a concerted effort to cushion children and youth against such adverse impacts.
It is hoped that researchers and practitioners concerned with children and youth would engage in wide ranging discussions and exchange of ideas and experiences from different parts of the world in order to identify critical issues for research and interventions. The evidence that researchers generate from around the world would lead to the identification of appropriate policies and other interventions that can address the problems affecting children and youth at a time of great uncertainty and social, economic and psychological turbulence around the world.
Siri Hettige is Emeritus Professor of Sociology at the University of Colombo, Sri Lanka . He is also an Adjunct Professor at the RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia. Professor Hettige was recently appointed as the Chairman, National Police Commission, Sri Lanka. He is also the Honorary President of the Association of Sri Lankan Sociologists and Chairman, the Working Committee on Social Sciences, National Science Foundation, Sri Lanka. He has published widely on such themes as youth, education, social and political conflict, social policy and governance and development. He has also served as a Visiting Professor/ Researcher at a number of overseas universities such as University of Zurich, Switzerland, University of Kuopio, Finland, Melbourne University, and University of Adelaide, Australia. His most recent publications include: Globalization, Employment and Education, co-authored with Angela Little, Rutledge, London (2013), Governance, Conflict and Development in South Asia, co-edited with Eva Geherz, Sage publications, Delhi, (2014), Towards a Sane Society, Sarasavi, Nugegoda, Sri Lanka (2015).