Since the start of the crisis, COVID-19 has generated countless headlines, with most focusing on public health challenges, the economic downturn, and efforts to encourage social distancing. A less talked about, but no less important topic, is how the pandemic threatens the safety and security of children.
As schools and services shutter and as social and community networks come under stress, children—particularly the most vulnerable—are at heightened risk of violence, abuse, exploitation, and neglect. What is worse, due to the nature of the crisis, child protection services and reporting mechanisms are even more constrained and less able to respond.
Ending violence against children is one of the key elements of child protection, a broad umbrella that refers to the prevention and response to violence, exploitation, and abuse of children in all contexts. Child protection programs and interventions must account not just for physical violence, but also its many other forms including mental, sexual, and social-emotional.