Covid-19 outbreak in China late 2019 has infected 2.2 million people across 185 countries. The wide spread virus caused a lot of deaths. Although children are not susceptible to the virus yet they are at high risk of secondary impacts of this pandemic on society. Children are facing multi-fold problems due to the present change in society. Firstly, their parents are infected or dead. Children orphaned are suffering serious consequences. Secondly, due to extended lock downs and Karfews their education, mental health has been affected. Thirdly, Children indulge in child labor have lost their jobs making it difficult to find living for themselves and their families.
Wide spread job and income and economic insecurity among families are likely to increase Child labor, sexual exploitation and abuse. Children of the stressed families especially those who are living under quarantines and lock downs are facing psychological issues. The children of the parents who have lost their jobs or who died from Covid-19 have suffered largely. Children Rights advocacy director at HRW Joe Beker said that the risks posed by Covid 19 crises to the children are enormous. This is the most stressful time ever affecting children’s mental health.
Spread of Covid-19; raise the risk of domestic violence. Psychologists are in the view that increased stress level among parents is a major predictor of physical abuse and neglect of children.
Children of families living under the poverty level are bound to do forced labor. To feed family eventually the elder children are dropped out from schools to earn. The orphaned children are forced to child labor for feeding younger siblings. Child labor is usually associated with financial shocks experienced by family. 152 million children were engaged in labor force before pandemic .Children indulge in child labor have lost their jobs in recent crisis. Due to this pandemic, they have lost their jobs. Financial shock to the family contributed to an increased stress level. Hence, the problem of bread and butter along with psychological problems has been increased.
On the other hand, parents who lost their jobs mainly daily wagers cannot pay the school fees and other expenses. Human Rights Watch (HRW) reported that more than 1.5 million students are out of schools. Most of the students do not have internet connection or any other ways of communication. Hence, their education and living has suffered. Excessive confinement, anxieties over health and finance increased the risk of violence at home. Reportedly, around the world estimated 1 billion children experienced physical, sexual or emotional violence or neglect in past year. Domestic violence in extreme cases result in death whereas in other cases it resulted in severe injuries, impaired brain or nervous system development, negative coping and health risk behavior. Due to this pandemic, the number of children exposed to domestic violence will be increased drastically.
Concluding more; it is estimated that the global death toll will eventually cross 10 to 20 million. This dilemma will leave many orphaned. Particularly, Orphans are more vulnerable to child abuse, domestic violence, sexual harassment, social insecurity and human trafficking. The Covid-19 pandemic is an eye opening phenomenon that countries should understand the weakened areas of their society; they should strengthen their economic, health and social sectors.
How Corona virus affected children: The Guardian (17th April 2020)