Q) The COVID19 pandemic will by and large affect the lives of thousands of children leaving them in dire situations. In this context, examine the consequences of the pandemic on children and suggest an approach to deal with them.
Why this Question?
Issue of current importance
Key demand of the Question
Impact of the pandemic on children and an effective approach to deal with them.
Examine - When asked to ‘Examine’, we must look into the topic (content words) in detail, inspect it, investigate it and establish the key facts and issues related to the topic in question. While doing so we should explain why these facts and issues are important and their implications.
Give a brief context of the question.
In the first part, categorically highlight the consequences of the pandemic on children.
In the next part, suggest an approach that should be adopted by the government to deal with these challenges.
Conclude with a way forward.
The second wave of COVID-19 has left us reeling, exposing the cracks and bigotry in our systems like no other time. UNICEF’s report “Averting a lost Covid generation” shows that while symptoms among infected children remain mild, infections are rising and the longer-term impact on the education, nutrition and well-being of an entire generation of children and young people can be life-altering.
Impact of COVID19 on Children
- Parental loss can have devastating effects on children’s social, emotional and cognitive growth.
- It adversely affects their mental health, inducing anxiety, depression and sleep disturbances and often worsens a family’s economic status, resulting in children’s poorer academic performance and school drop-outs.
- Dropping out from schools also increases the risk of malnutrition among those who were attending government schools and are poor.
- There is a greater risk of substance abuse among children who drop out of school and adolescents who lose parents also display more sexually risky behaviours.
- Activists have mentioned other complicated situations also emerging as a result of the pandemic. Among the poorer sections of society, the pandemic has left children affected in several ways since last year. Eg.- cases of sexual abuse of children in slums has increased because they were left vulnerable.
- In a case documented in a report by NGO Protsahan, the relatives of a minor girl wanted to get her married. This shows that the pandemic has led to an increase in the number of child marriages.
Approach that is Needed
- Governments should proactively reach out to those in distress using its database of Covid-19 deceased, which has addresses and contact details.
- Cash transfers may prove crucial in mitigating the risks that parental loss likely brings. It is worth reflecting on whether they are effective in keeping the child from having to work as labour in order to take care of the additional costs due to schooling
- Article 39 of the Constitution prohibits the tender age of the children from being abused. Therefore, orphaned children who have lost both their parents or abandoned or surrendered due to the Covid-19 pandemic must not be neglected and left to face an uncertain future. They must be taken care of by the authorities entrusted with responsibilities under the Juvenile Justice Act.
- Support and protect the mental health of children and young people and bring an end to abuse, gender-based violence and neglect in childhood.
- Redouble efforts to protect and support children and their families living through conflict, disaster and displacement.
- Guarantee access to nutrition and health services and make vaccines affordable and available to every child.
- Steps to be taken to minimise digital divide among the children.
- Better learning opportunities especially in villages.
Children are an important national asset, and the well-being of the nation, and its future, depend on how its children grow and develop. India as a lower-middle-income country needs to use education as an equalizer for its widespread socioeconomic inequalities. Now is the time to step up international solidarity for children and humanity— and to lay the foundations for a deeper transformation of the way we nurture and invest in our world’s youngest generation.