COVID-19 and Child Protection
As is the case for all children across the world, the COVID-19 pandemic has cast a heavy shadow on the children of Jordan, and its negative effects have been more severe on children of the most vulnerable families.
Although children are less affected by the disease health wise, the pandemic has changed a lot in children’s lives. In the field of education, the government announced the closure of schools in March 2020, and declared a shift towards distance learning which unfortunately was not available to everyone.
In this context, UNICEF carried out a study on the difficulties facing children and young people in Jordan during the (COVID-19) pandemic, particularly on the most vulnerable groups of children and young people. The study reported that the (COVID-19) pandemic has revealed a substantial digital gap among Jordanian students from the lowest economic status groups. This required consolidated efforts to ensure that those students catch up on what they missed and continue their education, especially as 25% of families said that their children were unable to access and benefit from the national online education platforms during the curfew, and only 31% of families had access to home internet service.
As for children’s exposure to violence, several local studies have warned of an increase in violence against children during the pandemic period. A UNICEF study in this respect showed increasing pressure on parents during the curfew and an increase in the levels of violence against children in their homes. More than two-thirds of fathers and mothers reported difficulties in dealing with their children during the curfew, and 56% of them reported that they resorted to psychological violence methods against their children during the curfew. More than a third of fathers and mothers resorted to the use of physical violence.
In the health aspect, the study showed that about 17% of children under the age of five did not receive basic vaccinations, and 23% of sick children during the (COVID-19) pandemic did not receive the necessary medical care. This was largely due to fear of virus infection and the lack of financial means to treatment.
The study also showed the negative impact of the pandemic on children from the most vulnerable families; 68% of these families were affected, while 28% of the most vulnerable children slept hungry during lockdown. This percentage drops to 15% after the end of the lockdown.
The child marriage ratio also witnessed a rise during the year 2020 reaching 11.8%, with an increase of more than 700 cases from the year 2019. Despite the absence of any new statistics on child labour, experts also suggested that the pandemic has contributed to an increase, especially with the study pointing out that 8 out of 10 of the most vulnerable families resorted to negative coping methods throughout the COVID-19 pandemic crisis.