Closures to schools also puts children at risk of greater exposure to violence and sexual abuse. With most families staying at home, children have less, and in many cases no, access to outside contacts.
“With the increased economic, social and psychological pressures that families are experiencing right now, many countries have reported increasing cases in domestic violence - that’s violence against children but also violence that children are witnessing at home,” Alice says.
“This can be extremely damaging not only for their emotional wellbeing but also their cognitive development which can impact their whole life.”
Alice says schools can be a protective place for children who are in need of support or a helpline.
“We know a lot of students have expressed additional stresses as a result of COVID-19 and that’s due to uncertainty, loss of family income, experiences of violence in the home,” she says.
“There are a lot of different things that could impact a student’s mental health and the school community can provide psychosocial support to cope with those stresses and recover.”
UNICEF is working to improve access to child protection support for children, including supplying social workers with personal protective equipment (PPE) so that they can continue to provide support and care for children. We are also ensuring alternative care continues by providing children who can no longer be with their families with a safe place to go.
“This can be extremely damaging not only for
their emotional wellbeing but also their cognitive
development which can impact their whole life.”