Covid-19: Ensure children’s safety

Monday April 13 2020
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Speak to the children about COVID 19. GETTY IMAGES

In a press briefing on April 6, the police reported increase in cases of domestic violence following the lockdown due to Covid-19 pandemic. Such violence does not affect only the adults, but it also has severe effects on children, who are very vulnerable in such circumstances. With the lockdown, parents spend more time with their children amid many pressures, including how to fend for their families, limited physical space, etc.
With all this, it is easy for adults to cascade the pressure to children. Sadly, in a crisis time like we are in today, many children become prone to sexual, physical, and emotional violence, yet many protection mechanisms are less or even non-functional.
At Raising Voices, we support schools to prevent all kinds of violence and over time, we have learnt some simple practical ways of ensuring safety of children in their homes. Here are a few tips.
Speak to the children about COVID 19: Children need to know about the pandemic and what they need to do to keep safe, try to simplify it to their level without watering down the severity of the problem, remain truthful in this conversation.
Reduce on depressing media: Children don’t have to watch everything about the pandemic, this may mean turning off some media channels and having them rely on you for updates on some occasions. For your own mental health, avoid fake news and stick to credible media sources.
Create a daily structure: Workout a schedule or timetable with the children indicating time for chores, homework, play and exercise. You can also teach them a new skill like baking, cooking, and knitting. It may be helpful to have more indoor games and allow limited time for outdoor games.
Create time to hear them out: Be available to listen, understand how much information they know and respond to the questions asked, it is fine to tell them you don’t know but will seek more information.
Some children may exhibit certain behaviors of anxiety, aggressiveness, anger, fear or stubbornness. This is normal during such difficult times but be sure to support them to pull through, to calm them down if you sense trauma and avoid being harsh.
Hope Wambi,