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Journal Articles Pediatrics Year : 2021

Children’s Drawings of Coronavirus


OBJECTIVES To understand how children perceive severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) in relation to public representations and to evaluate their interpretations. METHODS Children’s perceptions of SARS-CoV-2 were evaluated by asking 103 French children, aged 5 to 17 years old, first to draw a coronavirus and then to identify SARS-CoV-2 in a series of 16 images during summer 2020. RESULTS One hundred three children were included in the study, either during outpatient visits at the hospital (in Marseille and Paris) or through the authors’ social network, and were grouped in terms of age, parents’ occupation, mode of recruitment, and recollection of having previously seen a representation of a coronavirus. Half of the children drew the coronavirus as circular in shape, and almost all included a crownlike feature. One-third of the drawings had anthropomorphic features. Although the pictorial representations of the virus were fairly accurate overall, the children’s interpretations of the crownlike structure were imaginative. The explanations the children gave for their drawings were in some cases surprising. Among the 16 pictures they were shown, the children correctly identified those of SARS-CoV-2, other than the electron micrograph, in more than two-thirds of cases. CONCLUSIONS Children of all ages, even the youngest, and both sexes had a relatively accurate perception of SARS-CoV-2, as evaluated through their drawings and their ability to recognize it among other pictures. The children’s drawings of the coronavirus were colorful and had a less frightening tone than expected in the light of media coverage, suggesting that they had developed coping mechanisms.

Dates and versions

hal-03662746 , version 1 (09-05-2022)



Laetitia Martinerie, Delphine Bernoux, Lisa Giovannini-Chami, Alexandre Fabre. Children’s Drawings of Coronavirus. Pediatrics, 2021, 148 (1), ⟨10.1542/peds.2020-047621⟩. ⟨hal-03662746⟩
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