Violence seen and experienced by children has surged worldwide during the COVID-19 pandemic, new research by international aid agency World Vision has found.
‘Act Now’, a child consultation study, reveals that more than four in five (81 per cent) of those interviewed across 50 countries have seen or faced violence in their homes, communities or online since the start of the coronavirus outbreak.
World Vision fears that if children are not heard and protected, even more children could be at greater risk. Figures suggest violence could increase by between 20 and 32 per cent in the future.
Dana Buzducea, World Vision’s International Advocacy and External Engagement Leader says:
“This year has been particularly difficult for the most vulnerable children. Coronavirus has increased pressure and threats to children globally, especially in the most fragile contexts. It is clear we have another epidemic on our hands – one of children facing increased violence.”
Children and young people from 50 countries are calling on governments to protect them from this violence and to prioritise their rights as part of the global response to the pandemic.
World Vision has already warned that up to 85 million children worldwide are at risk of physical, sexual and/or emotional violence as a result of COVID-19 quarantines and restrictions, setting countries back decades in the fight against exploitation and violence against children.
The study also found that the pandemic has prevented over 80 per cent of children from accessing education in some form. The young people interviewed urged governments to prioritise education as part of the global response to the pandemic.
“In every crisis, children – especially the most vulnerable ones – pay the highest price. This is a crisis like no other and the pandemic has already decimated access to education, while vital child protection facilities such as schools, helplines and social groups have been completely inaccessible for many children who need them the most. The lockdowns that helped to slow down the spread of the virus have also locked children and young people into terrible conditions,”
More than 50,000 people including children have signed a World Vision global petition urging governments and institutions to increase funding for health, education and other social services that protect children from violence during the COVID-19 pandemic.
So far, World Vision has reached 24 million children with education, child protection and food and livelihood support, as part of its $350 million USD response to the coronavirus pandemic.
“Our experience shows that when empowered and supported, children are not passive victims but can be hidden heroes in times of need. Their input, their voices, their perspectives must be heard by decision makers. World Vision stands with children and young people as they demand that their rights are realised and we advocate for legitimate child participation and empowerment. Their voices are crucial as we work together respond to COVID-19 and build children’s lives back better in its aftermath,”