Almost a month into the declaration of COVID-19 as a Pandemic, we are already seeing report after report that document increased levels of abuse, neglect and violence against children.
Here at the Alliance, we started in early march to advocate for further attention to the protection of children amidst strict COVID-19 prevention and control measures. We issued a technical note on protection of children and COVID-19. Based on previous experiences from Ebola, SARS, MERS and Cholara outbreaks, the note outlined the risks that were likely to increase for children and their caregivers.
Unfortunately, today, we know that what seemed like a possibility a month ago is now reality. Millions of children are facing increased risk of abuse, neglect, exploitation and violence. The containment measures in most countries are making it impossible for children or their caregivers to report abuse or violence, or get any services to help them cope with it. Some reports are even documenting death of children as a result of domestic abuse.
The UN Special Rapporteur on the sale and sexual exploitation of children, Maud de Boer-Buquicchio warned that that confinement measures and the disrupted provision of already limited child protection services exacerbate the vulnerability of children living in child care institutions, refugee camps, immigration detention centres and other closed facilities, as cases of violence, sexual abuse and exploitation of children confined in these premises are likely to go undetected
UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General on violence against children. Najat Maalla M’jid, suggested that :
Under current containment measures for COVID-19, children are at a greater risk of experiencing violence and exploitation, as well as challenges to their mental health. This is especially true of those who are already in vulnerable situations, such as children outside of family care, children living with disabilities, and those living in humanitarian and fragile contexts.
Extreme control and prevention measures may speed containment of Corona virus, but they can have devastating consequences for children and their families, especially if governments do not integrate child protection provisions in their COVID-19 response plans. When designing and implementing the most appropriate response to COVID-19, governments should not only be guided by sound epidemiological science but also by safety and well-being or children and their families.
Here at the Alliance, we continue developing and providing technical guidance and advocacy material for those who are working to protect children in the face of this crisis. Please visit our webiste at Alliancecpha.org to find the latest technical notes and advocacy material.
I would like to finish by saying that a full and humane recovery from this crisis is only possibly if we tend to the needs of the most vulnerable, and above all, children. Please let us know how we can support you as you prevent and respond to protection concerns in these difficult time.
Please stay safe.