A new report has indicated that the number of children suffering from violence and abuse annually has risen to over one billion as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The report also noted that violence prevention and response services have been disrupted for 1.8 billion children living in more than 100 countries and 1.5 billion young people affected by school closures lost the protection and support that schools often provide.
The report signed by over 40 leaders of various organisations stated that “one billion children experience violence and abuse every year.
“That shocking figure has risen even higher during the COVID-19 pandemic. Violence prevention and response services have been disrupted for 1.8 billion children living in more than 100 countries. 1.5 billion young people affected by school closures lost the protection and support that schools often provide.
“Measures to contain the virus, along with economic hardship and family stress, have combined to create ‘perfect storm’ conditions for children vulnerable to observing or experiencing physical, emotional and sexual abuse.
“Despite the benefits of digital connectivity, a life lived more online for learning, socialising and gaming has significantly increased children’s exposure to those who wish to harm them.
“Today, we stand at a critical moment for the world’s children. Unless we act now and with urgency, we risk losing a generation of children to the long-term impacts of violence and abuse that will undermine child safety, health, learning and development long after the pandemic subsides. We cannot let that happen.”
The leaders, however, noted that as the world starts to emerge from the pandemic, the world has an opportunity to reimagine and create more peaceful, just and inclusive societies.
“Now is the time to redouble our collective efforts and translate what we know works into accelerated progress towards the goal of a world where every child grows up safe, secure and in a nurturing environment,” the leaders said.
They stressed that there is a need to create a world where every child can grow up and thrive with dignity; where violence and abuse of children is legally outlawed and socially unacceptable; where the relationship between parents and children prevents the intergenerational transmission of violence; where children in every community can safely take advantage of the digital world for learning, playing and socialising.
“The moral imperative and economic case for action to end violence against children are compelling. Action today will not only prevent the devastating intergenerational social and economic impacts of violence on children, families and societies; it will also help to address the wider impacts of COVID-19 and support progress towards multiple Sustainable Development Goals.”
They urged world leaders to prioritise protecting children in their policies, planning, budgets and communications, and to work together to ban all forms of violence against children by 2030, equip parents and caregivers to keep children safe, make the internet safe for children, make schools safe, non-violent and inclusive, protect children from violence in humanitarian settings and invest more in protecting children.
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