Lack of access to healthcare, domestic life, education, increased presence online, are among the areas in which children could possibly be harmed.
Millions of children worldwide are being vulnerable to countless threats due to the lockdowns arising from the global coronavirus pandemic, a new United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) report has revealed Thursday.
The document called “The Impact of COVID-19 on children” details the different areas in which children could possibly be harmed, including lack of access to healthcare, domestic life, education, and risks as a result of an increased presence online.
About 60 percent of all children around the world are currently in a country that is maintaining some level of a lockdown, which is impeding them to go to school.
Many had their only meals provided by educational institutions previously. More than 368 million children in about 143 countries are now deprived of their food, and have to seek it through alternative means, the report says.
It also warned that amplified stress levels among quarantined families can expose children to family violence both as victims and witnesses. Other children’s rights advocates including international NGO Save the Children have also raised alarm bells about this specific issue.
“Social disruption and high stress at home can have a deep impact on children, and millions of them now face an increased risk of violence, abuse, neglect, and exploitation,” Janti Soeripto, president and CEO of Save the Children, said Thursday in response to the report.
On the other hand, as they are unable to physically attend schools, many children have to learn online, which requires digital tools. But, the disparity in this access means that not everybody can receive the same level of training.
Only 30 percent of low-income countries have been able to ensure digital courses for their students.
Children’s presence online for lessons or to stay connected with friends can also expose them to other kinds of risks.
The report points out that children are more prone to be at risk of grooming by online predators, being cyber-bullied, being manipulated to share content such as sexually explicit photos.
The UNICEF said governments must ensure that child protective services are open and accessible. Technology companies also have their role to play as they should make sure their services are built-in secure manners. Finally, parents must be careful and keep antivirus and software updates on their children’s phones and computers, the U.N. agency recommended.