Since its inception, the outbreak has had a plethora of repercussions and consequences for children. Despite the fact that they are thought to be the least prone to get the virus, the virus has affected them differently. It has had the following effects on children:
- The number of children living in poverty has soared. This is due to rising economic uncertainty for many households, with parents in danger of losing or having lost their livelihoods. This has had a deleterious impact on a huge number of children, with those from low-income or socially disadvantaged households bearing the brunt of the burden. School closures in certain areas have resulted in children missing out on school lunches, which for some youngsters were the most important meal of the day.
- Because of the pandemic’s heightened stress, anxiety, and financial uncertainty, the dangers of child maltreatment, abandonment, domestic violence, criminal enslavement, or sexual exploitation have grown both offline and online. Offline, as indicated by the reported greater difficulty in relationships and conflict inside the family household, whether amongst children, siblings, or parents. Children are spending more time online as a result of lockdowns. As have those who have used violence against them. As a result, there has been an upsurge in online sexual offenses against children, the most noteworthy of which being the internet distribution of child sexual abuse material.
- The emotional and psychological well-being of children has deteriorated. Many children have been reported to suffer from anxiety as a result of a lack of information and uncertainty about the present predicament, solitude as a result of being away from friends, school, sport, and leisure activities, concern for the health of family members, and fear of becoming ill themselves. Lack of proper physical exercise, as well as a lack of organization and routine, all played a part.
- Reports to social services have decreased, which might be attributed to the fact that children were isolated during the lockdown and were either unable to report themselves or were not seen by child care experts and instructors, who often discover anomalies in the kid’s behavior or well-being.
- Children in vulnerable groups, such as migrant children, street children, children with disabilities, children in divorced or separated families, children in conflict with the law, and children in care, were particularly vulnerable during the pandemic and suffered greatly as a result of lockdown measures. It was highlighted that in some circumstances, the crisis uncovered previously disregarded or unseen prejudice and inequality, and in many cases, it exacerbated them.
- According to Save the Children, seven out of ten children believe they learned nothing throughout the epidemic. Parents and caregivers of teenagers aged 11 to 14 years old, as well as youngsters with disabilities or chronic conditions, think that their children learn little.
How to address the challenges
- In circumstances of domestic violence or abuse, alternate reporting systems and channels must be established. This involves the employment of case managers as point people and the use of direct contact as a reporting mechanism between authorities, welfare institutions, and at-risk families. This also involves prioritizing households from whose incidences of domestic abuse had been reported in the recent past in terms of surveillance.
- There is also a need to prioritize the implementation of current monitoring and care orders, as well as prioritizing the return of children to school, child-care, and other external supporting contexts via planning, financing, and assistance.
- Creating crisis boards comprised of persons responsible for child safety and welfare.
- Provision of child-friendly materials when sensitizing children to potential challenges and how to overcome them. This increases kid engagement in any interventions that may be implemented to assist them. Participation entails listening to and considering children’s perspectives, as well as allowing their voices to be heard and fed into government planning and initiatives.
Child Protection in Emergencies: Our Solution
Protection of children in any disaster, particularly a health emergency, is critical to resuming regular life once an epidemic has passed. Child protection procedures must be implemented as soon as an emergency occurs to secure the children’s safety. To do this, professionals who deal with children have a responsibility to avoid violence and abuse and to provide children with access to protective services through government and community institutions.
SDSL’s CPIE training focuses on how children can be safeguarded in an emergency context in addition to getting the normal humanitarian package of food, water, shelter, medications, and sanitation. Children require emotional support in addition to their physical needs.