Psychological effects of COVID on Children enormous- UNICEF

By: Achen stacy, 13 - Uganda Have you thought about what consequences the Covid-19 situation could have on your child? As a young reporter selected by UNICEF to attend the digital media conference on Friday 12 June, to mark the Day of the Africa Child 2020, I asked the following question to a panel of experts: My question was: What are the psychological effects COVID-19 is impacting on young children? Gabriele Fontana, UNICEF ESARO Regional Advisor for Health answered me saying; As young children normally don’t get sick with COVID-19, they get the virus but do not normally get sick and suffer from its consequences. Children find themselves in the midst of anxiety and they are very perceptive. You find that even the youngest ones may not be able to express it in words but they feel the uncertainty and tension that surround them and this gives them anxiety. They need more comfort than ever from their parents and care givers. School closures are a big challenge, children don’t have the same opportunities to socialize with their peers to keep learning, to keep in a safe environment during the day, they may feel isolated, many of them may struggle with home schooling or they may not have an opportunity to do this and may feel depressed. Also some households are strained with reduced income as parents may have lost their jobs and putting food on the table every day becomes difficult. Stressed parents, stressed care givers may become frustrated, less caring and we have also seen many cases of violence increasing. Some children may have been separated from their parents or caregivers due to social distancing or when they healed from COVID-19, this is very stressful. Finally, access to health services and other social services has become difficult due to the lock downs. UNICEF is supporting governments to identify and protect children in adolescences in the most vulnerable households and circumstances including children in detention facilities and other vulnerable areas. It is important to nurse child initiatives, this is very important for their mental health. Mr. Gabriele Fontana also said UNICEF teaches care givers how to talk to children about COVID and how to ensure continuity of learning while school Centers are closed. And with that, he ended. I learnt so many things from the conference as there were also other experts who tackled different questions from other children all over Africa and it is one of the best experiences I have ever had. One of the things that I learnt from this conference was that the home environment is critical to the development and health of children particularly during this period of Covid-19 where parents are impacted differently by the crisis and lockdown. To Parents and caregivers, please do not be too violent and harsh on your children because of your different ups and downs as this may have a negative long-term effect in their lives. We all have the responsibility to protect the African child. Thank you.

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