The rapid spread of coronavirus has resulted in quarantine efforts such as school closures and movement restrictions, disrupting children’s routines and support systems, while adding stress to caregivers
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has urged governments to ensure the safety and wellbeing of children amidst the growing socioeconomic fallout due to the coronavirus.
UNICEF, together with its partners at the Alliance for Child Protection in Humanitarian Action, has released a set of guidelines to help authorities and organizations trying to fight the outbreak.
The rapid spread of coronavirus has resulted in quarantine efforts such as school closures and movement restrictions, disrupting children’s routines and support systems, while adding stress for caregivers.
“In many ways, the disease is now reaching children and families far beyond those it directly infects,” said Cornelius Williams, UNICEF Chief of Child Protection. “Schools are closing. Parents are struggling to care for their children and make ends meet. The protection risks for children are mounting. This guidance provides governments and protection authorities with an outline of practical measures that can be taken to keep children safe during these uncertain times.”
The guidelines underline concrete steps that governments and protection authorities should take to ensure that protection of children is integral to all COVID-19 prevention and control measures, including:
• Train health, education, and child services staff on COVID-19 related child protection risks, including on the prevention of sexual exploitation and abuse and how to safely report concerns;
• Train first responders on how to manage disclosure of gender-based violence (GBV Pocket Guide), and collaborate with healthcare services to support GBV survivors;
• Increase information sharing on referral and other support services available for children;
• Engage children, particularly adolescents, in assessing how COVID-19 affects them differently to inform programming and advocacy;
• Provide targeted support to interim care centres and families, including child-headed households and foster families, to emotionally support children and engage in appropriate self-care;
• Provide financial and material assistance to families whose income generating opportunities have been affected; and
• Put in place concrete measures to prevent child-family separation, and ensure support for children left alone without adequate care due to the hospitalization or death of a parent or caregiver; and
• Ensure the protection of all children is given the utmost consideration in disease control measures.
The coronavirus epidemic has so far infected 308,564 people and killed 13,069 people globally.