Covid-19

COVID -19 could put 85 million children at risk of physical, sexual and emotional violence over next 3 months World Vision warns

  • Based on emerging indicators, World Vision warns that the estimated 1 billion children already exposed to  violence, could grow by up to 85 million as    systems and services restrict to prevent the spread of coronavirus
  • Millions more children are at increased long-term risk of child marriage and child labour over the coming year
  • The aid agency calls on world leaders to prioritise the world’s most vulnerable children and prevent this escalation of violence

 15TH MAY 2020- Aftershocks – A Perfect Storm, released today by international faith-based aid agency World Vision, reveals that up to 85 million more children could experience physical, sexual and emotional violence in the next three months as vital isolation measures force them to stay home. The aid agency is calling on world leaders to urgently revise national policies and funding to prioritise ending violence against children and avoid these potentially devastating effects. 

Whilst on average one billion children are estimated to experience violence each year, the global pandemic is exacerbating existing vulnerabilities and increasing the risk of unreported violence.   

Andrew Morley, World Vision International President and CEO, said “We know from bitter experience that times of crisis compound the risks of violence faced by the most vulnerable children. We saw this recently with Ebola, and we’re concerned that the coronavirus pandemic poses a new and grave global threat to children’s safety as quarantine measures isolate families, and economic and social pressures take their toll.

“We believe that as many as 85 million more children could suffer, and we urge global leaders to prioritise protecting the God-given rights of children, as well as curbing the spread of COVID-19.”

Aftershocks – A Perfect Storm reviews information from World Vision programmes, domestic violence protection reports from countries around the world, and surges in calls to child helplines, as well as from their extensive experience in previous crises. Recent studies of Official Development Assistance (ODA) data estimate that less than 0.6% of total global spending is allocated to ending violence against children.

“As coronavirus sweeps through nations, millions of people have found refuge by isolating in their homes. Unfortunately, home is not a safe space for everyone as an untraceable number of family members have been isolated with their abuser. Schools and community centres can no longer protect vulnerable children in the way they would usually. As a result, our report shows that in numerous countries World Vision has seen reported incidents of child abuse and violence spike since the lockdown measures were imposed. For example in Bangladesh, April’s national impact and needs assessment compiled by a range of stakeholders including World Vision revealed that beatings by parents or guardians had increased by 42%; that there was a 40% increase of calls to the child helpline; and that 50% of those interviewed said the safety and security of girls was an issue in the lockdown.” said World Vision International Global Leader for Advocacy, Dana Buzducea.

Apart from the threat of child abuse, World Vision also predicts an increase in child marriage and child labour as financial difficulties take a toll on struggling families.

 "It has been recently estimated that there will be an additional 13 million child marriages over the next ten years due to COVID-19, adding to the 150 million already expected to occur in that time period. Our experience shows that most of these marriages will occur in the years immediately following the crises, with the potential to see at least four million more girls married in the next two years."

Last week, World Vision expanded its COVID-19 response to a US$350m programme that focuses on supporting the world’s most vulnerable to combat the impacts and aftereffects of COVID-19. The ambitious response plan will mobilise 37,000 staff, 400,000 faith leaders and 220,000 community health workers in over 70 countries to support prevention and response initiatives. World Vision has already supported more than 390,000 children with child protection programming and provided over 684,000 children, parents, and caregivers with education support or training since the pandemic was first declared. The NGO’s global campaign, It takes a world to end violence against children, puts the protection of children from violence as its key priority.

Buzducea urges: “It is vital that world leaders take responsibility for the protection of all children against violence and abuse. World Vision and other child focussed organisations will continue to prioritise the protection of the world’s most vulnerable children, however we cannot do this alone. Governments around the world who are focussed on COVID reduction and economic impacts must also prioritise these children and ensure that they are not forgotten. If not the aftershocks caused by increased violence and abuse will be felt by generations to come.”

 ENDS.

Notes to editors:

For further information or to organise an interview, please contact Washington Nuworkpor (Washington_Nuworkpor@wvi.org)

You can read World Vision’s Aftershocks II Report here: https://www.wvi.org/publications/report/coronavirus-health-crisis/covid-19-aftershocks-perfect-storm

World Vision’s #HiddenHero campaign will shed light throughout our response on those making a real, but unseen difference for the most vulnerable children facing the wrath of COVID-19 in their lives.

World Vision is a Christian humanitarian organisation dedicated to working with children, families and their communities to reach their full potential by tackling the root causes of poverty and injustice. World Vision serves all people, regardless of religion, race, ethnicity or gender. For more information, please visit www.wvi.org or follow us on Twitter @WorldVision