Covid-19 impact on children ‘lifelong’

Wednesday September 02, 2020 Written by RNZ Published in Small World
Photo: UNICEF Pacific/2016/JHing Photo: UNICEF Pacific/2016/JHing

The United Nations Children’s Fund is warning the impact of Covid-19 on children extends far beyond the spheres of their physical health, Radio New Zealand has reported.

A new report released by the UN agency revealed the pandemic was having profound effects on children’s mental health, social development, safety, privacy, economic security and beyond.

The UNICEF’s Pacific Representative Sheldon Yett said while the majority of children had been spared Covid’s direct health effects, the crisis is affecting their well-being.

“There are unseen issues. There are issues of mental health. There are issues of social health. When we see day after day images on TV of family members getting sick, there’s a mental toll here. A toll of anxiety, sadness and lack of hope,” he said.

Yett said the impact of Covid-19 was also expected to be most damaging for those children who were already in disadvantaged or vulnerable situations.

He said many countries are in lockdown and with restrictions in place - it might “represent a source of security for some children but for others it’s the opposite”.

“We know from experience that domestic violence increases in periods of stress and Covid-19 is no different,” he said.

“We have already seen a very sharp increase in calls to the crises lines.”

The UN report also showed the pandemic is “potentially catastrophic” for many children around the world.

Covid’s impact risks unravelling global progress across several of the Sustainable Development Goals for children, putting already ambitious targets out of sight, the report said.

Yett said in the Pacific, the economic impact of the pandemic had been devastating and will affect future generations.

“We need to ensure children have the necessary training to find jobs and that we look to the future. Not just the medium impact but the future.

“We must continue to ensure that children have the critical thinking skills and resilience to move forward.”

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