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COVID-19։ Violence against children turning into a hidden crisis

A number of international organizations have issued a statement expressing concern that children living with COVID-19 may be at greater risk of violence, including abuse, gender-based violence and sexual exploitation.

 

The announcement, in particular, states:

 

“Because of COVID-19, one-third of the world’s population is self-isolated, and school closures have affected more than 1.5 billion children. Restrictions on movement, loss of income, self-isolation, and high levels of stress and anxiety increase the likelihood of physical, psychological, and sexual abuse of children, particularly those who are already in a violent or unfavorable family environment. And as the Internet has become a platform for many children to learn, support, and play games, the risk of cyberbullying, dangerous online behavior, and sexual exploitation has increased.

 

The situation is exacerbated by the lack of opportunities for children to communicate with school friends, teachers, and social workers, as well as the lack of schools as safe places and services provided by schools. The most vulnerable children, including refugees, migrants and internally displaced persons, imprisoned, left without parental care, living on the streets and in the backyards, children with disabilities, living in conflict-affected areas, are of particular concern. For many, the deteriorating financial situation will increase the risk of child labor, child marriage, and trafficking.

 

Governments have a key role to play in this. They need to ensure that COVID-19 prevention and anti-aging programs include age-appropriate gender-sensitive measures to protect all children from violence, neglect and abuse. Priority is given to the support of child protection services and employees in this field with the provision of appropriate resources.

 

Together with the government as a result of the support provided to the government, together we must implement:

  • Maintenance of basic health and social welfare services, including mental health and social-psychological health
  • Alternative care for child protection cases and emergency care,
  • Social protection for the most vulnerable children and families,
  • Ensuring the care and protection of children in day care institutions,
  • Provide information and advice for parents, guardians, and their children,
  • Introduction of hotlines, school psychologists and other child-centered mechanisms to alert children so that they have the opportunity to seek help if they find themselves in a difficult situation.

 

Given the growing likelihood of online threats, IT companies and telecommunications companies need to do everything possible to ensure the safety of children online. In particular, it is necessary to provide free hotlines, to provide age-appropriate services and secure online education systems, using the platforms of organizations to provide children with advice on online security. More needs to be done to prevent online threats, including the creation and dissemination of images and videos of child sexual abuse involving children.”

 

The statement was signed by UNICEF, WHO, UN Women and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, the African Children’s Policy Forum, the Save the Children, SOS Children’s Villages, WePROTECT Global Alliance, End Violence Partnership World Council, World Council of Churches, World Vision and other international organizations.

 

Don’t let children fall victim to the COVID-19 epidemic

 

UNICEF also said that children and young people are not only directly affected by COVID-19, but also the most affected.

 

UNICEF says it is launching a global action plan to protect vulnerable children from harm. The agenda includes six points.

 

1) maintain the health of children

 

2) make water and sanitation accessible to vulnerable children;

 

3) ensure the continuity of education,

 

4) support families, to take care of their needs and to provide child care,

 

5) protect children from violence, exploitation and abuse,

 

6) protect refugee, migrant and conflict-affected children.

 

The organization notes that without taking urgent steps, this health crisis could be a crisis of children’s rights, and points to the dangers that children may face, which need to be addressed today in order to neutralize them.

 

In the field of healthcare, COVID-19 can overload fragile health systems in low- and middle-income countries, throwing stones at the many benefits that children have gained over the past few decades in maintaining life, health, nutrition, and development. Many countries’ health systems are already in trouble.

 

At the same time, protecting ourselves and others through proper hand washing and hygiene practices has never been so important. But for many children, water and sanitation remain inaccessible.

 

“Education. The education of a whole generation of children has been disrupted. At the national level, the closure of schools has disrupted the education of more than 1.57 billion students, accounting for 91 percent of the world’s population. Such previous experience suggests that schoolchildren, and especially girls who have not attended school for a long time, are much less likely to return to school after reopening. The closure of schools has also disrupted school meals, increasing malnutrition.

 

The socio-economic impact of COVID-19 will have the greatest impact on the most vulnerable children. Many are already living in poverty, and the measures taken to combat COVID-19 will only make their situation worse. As millions of parents struggle to make ends meet, governments need to provide social protection mechanisms such as remittances, job support, and more.

 

We know from previous health emergencies that when schools are closed, social services are out of order and movement is restricted, increasing the risk of children being exploited and abused. And violence happens the most at home. In most countries, more than 2 out of 3 children are abused by guardians.

 

Children who are already living in a humanitarian crisis should not be forgotten in the fight against COVID-19. 2020 was already a year in which more people than ever needed humanitarian aid. And in countries affected by the crisis, the vulnerability of children will continue, and will probably deepen as a result of this epidemic, putting them at double risk. The world community must unite to protect the rights of the most vulnerable children, those who do not have a family or home, as well as to protect themselves from the spread of the virus. ”

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