Child Vulnerabilities in a Time of a Global Pandemic (Part 1)
Contributing Authors: Joyce R. King, Chief Counsel, Frederick County (MD) State’s Attorney’s Office & Nelson O. Bunn, Jr., Executive Director, NDAA
As COVID-19 continues to spread, focus has been placed on those age 60 and older and those with underlying conditions, deeming them as “vulnerable populations.” One demographic that has not gotten much attention yet faces challenges of its own: children. Children are more vulnerable for abuse, neglect and sexual exploitation during these challenging times. COVID-19 has disrupted the environments in which children grow and develop. Disruptions to families, friendships, daily routines and the wider community can have negative consequences for children’s well-being, development and protection.
Quarantine measures such as school closures and restrictions on movement disrupt children’s routine and social support while also placing new stressors on parents and caregivers who may have to find new childcare options or forgo work.
The Alliance for Child Protection in Humanitarian Action put forward the following risks:
WHAT CAN WE DO?
1. During a time of reduced workforce, multi-sectoral proactive preparedness and response actions:
a. Identify alternative mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) and educational activities
b. Develop an inter-agency plan, in collaboration with relevant authorities, to strengthen the care of vulnerable children
2. Disseminate resources and contact information for local Child Advocacy Centers. Remind the community that their local Child Advocacy Centers and Protective Services are open and still available to assist.
3. Be proactive in monitoring children’s behavior for any potential warning signs of added stressors, aggravators or abnormal reactions to changes in the child’s environment