While the world has experienced many crises, COVID-19 presents unprecedented challenges. António Guterres, Secretary General of the UN, suggests that the coronavirus pandemic is quickly turning into a “broader child rights crisis”. Media coverage indicates an increase of domestic violence and violence against children. It is abundantly clear that risk factors for violence, abuse, and neglect are on the rise for children under containment. At the same time, some COVID-19 prevention measures have abruptly cut children off from positive and supportive relationships they rely on when in distress, including at school, in the extended family, and in the community. Children’s rights to safety and protection as outlined in the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Minimum Standards for Child Protection in Humanitarian Action are threatened.
This technical note, which is informed by reports from the field, examines issues that children may face as countries implement lockdowns and stay-at-home orders to curb the spread of COVID-19. Protective prevention and response strategies are then outlined with the goal of strengthening the protection of children in all types of homes.