The World Council of Churches is calling for urgent protection of children during the COVID-19 pandemic
The global spread of the new corona virus poses massive challenges for many countries. Although the majority of children suffer mildly from the disease, they are severely affected by the social consequences and need special protection. “Efforts to contain the coronavirus are vital to the health of the world’s population, but they are also exposing children to increased risk of violence – including maltreatment, gender-based violence and sexual exploitation,” the statement of World Council of Churches (WCC) says.
Over 1.5 billion children are now out of school. “Movement restrictions, loss of income, isolation, overcrowding and high levels of stress and anxiety are increasing the likelihood that children experience and observe physical, psychological and sexual abuse at home – particularly those children already living in violent or dysfunctional family situations. “
According to the statement, the situation is aggravated by children’s lack of access to school friends, teachers, social workers and the safe space and services that schools provide.
“The most vulnerable children – including refugees, migrants, and children who are internally displaced, deprived of liberty, living without parental care, living on the street and in urban slums, with disabilities and living in conflict-affected areas – are a particular concern,” so the proclamation. “For many, growing economic vulnerability will increase the threat of child labour, child marriage and child trafficking.”
The report calls on governments, the international community and leaders in every sector to urgently respond with a united effort to protect children from the heightened risk of violence and abuse.