Here’s how the pandemic is threatening our children’s well-being

The coronavirus has led the entire world into seclusion. With a large chunk of workforce gone remote, most of the population is working from home while taking care of their homes and children. These are extraordinary times that have entirely changed lives. Apart from disrupting the way we live and run business, the virus has widely impacted the psychological well-being of both kids and adults alike.

But kids are young and are suffering the most. Seeing their parents losing their jobs or being under the stress of working from home, being away from friends and family, away from school, and listening to the disturbing news has warped children’s safe bubble of life. Summers are not going to be like the ones we used to have before. Parks and public places shutting down to control the spread of the virus paints a bleak picture of the summers we are accustomed to having.

UNICEF published a report in April revealing that 99% of children of the children across the world have to live with some kind of restrictions due to the pandemic. Also, according to the International Monetary Fund’s forecast that income and job losses are going to add to the number of households suffering from extreme poverty. Children are distressed due to the economic instabilities families are suffering from and the lockdown. It points towards mental health problems in the future.

What happens when children suffer from trauma?

Adverse childhood experiences are the ones that are traumatic for youngsters and occur before the age of 18. These include neglect, food insecurity, substance abuse, domestic violence, and parents suffering from mental illness. According to research, people who suffer from traumatic experiences in their childhood have troubles all their lives as trauma has negative and long-term effects on their physical health and life outcomes. Also, these experiences lead to chronic diseases like autoimmune diseases, asthma, cancer, diabetes, and heart diseases. They might also engage in substance abuse and self-harming.

When a brain is stressed for a prolonged period, the stress becomes toxic that damages attention span, brain development, decision-making, learning, and relationship-building. And when these children enter adulthood, they can suffer from depression and struggle in their life in terms of staying committed to one job, managing finances, and even forming long-term relationships.

How is the pandemic impacting children?

Disrupted school lives

The current scenario is troubling for youth as both their physical and mental health is suffering. School-going children have their routines disrupted. Schools are shut down globally, interrupting the learning and development of more than 91% of students as per UNICEF. It amounts to 1.57 billion children. School closures have been difficult for children and wreaked havoc with their mental well-being rendering them unable to access mental health support or face-to-face counseling as they would get in schools. Special needs children are also at risk because of the disrupted specialized learning programs.

Limited interaction with friends and family

Due to social distancing, children are unable to meet their friends, family members, and other loved ones. It is damaging to a child’s well-being as socializing is an important aspect of their lives. Also, due to the cancellation of cultural and leisure activities, kids can no longer go to cafes, restaurants, theaters, museums, or other public places. The lack of recreation out of their homes is intensifying stress levels among youngsters.

Poor Academic Performance 

The pandemic has also affected the academic performance of students as they miss out on the instructions from their teachers. There is limited access to libraries, summer schools, and after-school clubs, making it difficult for students to access information.

Not all schools are ill-equipped to cope with distance learning and lack the technology and resources for it. School closures have also impacted the nutrition of children because several poor students rely on school programs for their daily main meals.

Homebound life is not as pleasant as it sounds

Some may debate on it that a homebound life has rekindled familial bonding and relationships. It might be the case for some. But many parents have lost their jobs, and as a result, have lost their only source of income. It results in a strained environment in the house due to poverty. Children suffer from a lack of a reliable source of daily nutrition and essential health services.

Domestic violence and child abuse cases have also increased during the lockdown, unfortunately. Extreme levels of anxiety, stress, and uncertainty contribute to these hidden acts of violence.

Multitasking has its limits

Since the world went into lockdown, parents have had to juggle remote work, household responsibilities, and homeschool children as well. Some people are suffering from the loss of beloved loved ones, including friends and family, which has led to post-traumatic stress disorder and depression. Stress is hitting everyone from different angles and all family members are suffering from it in different forms.

Lockdown is slowly lifting from all over the world, but it is going to take a long time for life to return to normal. Governments should assist the households that have been struggling to stay afloat. Also, the local government should collaborate with community-based programs that can help children in coping with stress. These can include online talks by school counselors or weekly cooking or art classes. Being productive does wonder for a stressed mind.

Our children are facing critical challenges nowadays. And these should be addressed to ensure a better future for the children once the pandemic ends.

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