Updated: Aug 13, 2020
Behind every story that makes it to the headlines, there are many more untold and hidden ones. They don’t make it simply because they are not sufficiently current or have yet to seep into the general consciousness of society.
Take COVID-19 for instance, we are obsessed with tracking the daily spiking numbers in Malaysia and worldwide. We try to second guess when the second or the third wave will hit.
But, unbeknown to many, crises like Covid-19 both exacerbate existing vulnerabilities and create new ones. This is very true in fragile and conflict-affected contexts where girls and boys already face heightened risks of violence.
The impact of Covid-19 is making it almost impossible for children to run away from violent situations, to confide in a friend, to report an act of violence or seek help from other trustable figures.
International humanitarian agency World Vision in its Aftershocks – A perfect storm report reveals that up to 85 million more children could experience physical, sexual and emotional violence as vital isolation measures force them to stay home.
Other key findings include:
While school closures may be a good way to protect children against the spread of Covid-19, it also increases the risk of psychological distress, violence, neglect and social exclusion at home and in their community. Children stuck at home are at increased risk from abusers especially those who were already experiencing violence.
Do you know a most recent report from EUROPOL has noted that demand for child pornographic content has been on the increase during the Covid-19 pandemic?
Locked down at home, children’s time spent online is also increasing. This places them at a higher risk of being targeted by predators for sexual exploitation, online bullying, and engaging in harmful online behaviors.
Disasters of any form put great economic pressure on vulnerable and marginalised families. As livelihoods harder and economic crises ensue, families have no choice but to identify other forms of income.
Child marriages and child labour are often “justified” as a way to reduce the household burden, or a means to earn income or access loans through informal dowry-based economies. Such stop-gap measure will inflict long-term harm, mentally and physically to the children involved.
Such situations are made worst when public systems and services were forced to halt or minimize operations due to diversion and/or lack of resources. For instance, with Covid-19 many of these systems and services are suffering from extremely low levels of government and donor investment, as well as gaps in polices and systems to end violence against children.
World Vision is doing its utmost best to help those vulnerable children and fill the gaps. For starters, it has been running programmes as part of its Covid response since the beginning of May. These include:
Reaching out to the vulnerable is not the “job” of any specific agencies or governments. As the saying goes, it takes a village to raise a child.
So, let us who can join hands and support those who are doing their best to bring hope of a better future even when the present seems bleak.