COVID- 19: A child’s rights crisis

Date: 28th May 2020
Category: Basic Health and Welfare, Civil Rights and Freedoms, Education, Leisure and Cultural Activities, General measures of implementation

Aoife Nolan, Professor of International Human Rights Law and Co-Director of the Human Rights Law Centre at the University of Nottingham analyses whether children have become the biggest victims of this pandemic as she explores the effect of COVID-19.

The UN policy brief on the impact of COVID-19 on children predicted a sharp increase in in child poverty globally; huge losses in child learning worldwide because of school closures and digital exclusion; risks to child safety from lockdown and ‘shelter in place’ measures; and threats to child health and survival from reduced household income, disrupted health services and the mental health toll of the pandemic.

Aoife Nolan gathered evidence from organisations across the UK in a blog post to examine if these predictions have come fruition. Reports from Food Foundation indicate there has been reduced access to school meals and household income has had a direct effect on children’s food security, as in the first two weeks of the pandemic, food banks in the Trussell Trust network experienced an 81% increase in demand compared to the same period in 2019, and a 122% rise in the number of parcels it provided for children. In addition, with regards to risks to child safety the number of domestic abuse killings appears to have doubled under lockdown, and calls to the NSPCC have gone up 20%.

Couple this evidence with the Coronavirus (Scotland) Act 2020 and the UK-wide Coronavirus Act 2020, which has reduced the number of legal protections for children in care and relaxed local authorities’ duties to education, health and care plans for children with special educational needs and disabilities, can leave children’s education and access to support services unduly effected by COVID-19.