Impact on Children's Development due to COVID-19
Children may not appear to be the primarily-impacted in the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the broader impact of the global pandemic can be catastrophic on children. It can create lasting impacts on children and long-term consequences for society as a whole.
The pandemic started as a global health emergency. And now, it is affecting worldwide development and prospects for the younger generation.
Let us consider the pandemic’s impact on children’s social, emotional, physical, and cognitive development and how to counter these effects.
Children or their family members might have been infected by COVID-19 and had suffered health problems. This can lead to fear and insecurity in children. The physiological problems can be dealt with the help of healthcare professionals. Simple steps to prevent the spread of disease can be explained to them, like social distancing, hand washing, and wearing a mask.
The virus’s socioeconomic effects on children are significant if the parents lose their livelihood source and have food, shelter, and security problems. This can lead to domestic upheaval and violence within the family. Children may also be targets of such violence and can face long term socio-emotional issues. Furthermore, even if the children are not the victim of violence but a witness to it, it can also cause equal socio-emotional harm to children. In a household where both the spouses are engaged in work from home, the number of domestic violence cases has increased tremendously. Most children in these stressful situations are at risk of developing socio-emotional issues. A useful solution can be to provide a helpline number to all citizens to contact for financial guidance and provide emotional support to families and children.
Healthcare may be affected as most resources are channelized towards COVID-19 prevention and cure activities, resulting in a delay or lack of routine vaccinations for children.
Routine healthcare gets affected due to fear of visiting hospitals. This can pose a severe problem for children with special needs and children with co-morbidities.
Schooling and daycare centers are closed, causing children’s safety issues as parents may have to leave home and go to work. Also, the stoppage of midday meals in government schools can lead to hunger, deprivation, and ill-health for children dependent on it for one full meal of the day.
The solution is to design child-centered programs. Set up a large group of volunteer teachers and citizens who can help with online classes in different rural areas and the needy in urban areas. Voluntary organizations can help with this endeavor.
Weekly chat sessions can be organized with the children regarding health, any stress-distress in the child. Moreover, have virtual birthdays and festival celebrations with groups of people can be done to reduce stress and generate a feeling of community when isolation is need of time to be safe and keep others safe. Communication with an empathetic listener is precious This will encourage the child to express emotions and fears. During these sessions, fun activities like singing, dancing, and painting can be carried out with children. This will reduce the negative impact of the virus on the children. Provide children with an emergency helpline number for them to access whenever they want. Public information should be given to educate citizens regarding children’s wellbeing.
We need to take steps to mitigate this pandemic and its impact, transform the way we nurture and invest in the younger generation. Act now, act decisively, and serve at a large scale. This is an emergency call for the world’s children and the world’s future.