"Hope For Children" CRC Policy Center held with great success the National Conference "The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on children’s welfare". The conference brought together children and stakeholders, professionals, representatives of local authorities and talked about the pandemic and the impact it had on children’s lives as well as the measures taken to prevent the challenges raised.
Specifically, the Conference was attended by the Minister of Education and Culture, the Commissioner for the Protection of the Rights of the Child in Cyprus, the Director of Mental Health Services, a representative of Social Welfare Services of the Ministry of Social Welfare, educators, psychologists and Hope For Children partners from the USA, UK, the Netherlands and Belgium who made online interventions, as well as experts in the field.
During the discussions and presentations, the effects of the pandemic on the well-being and mental health of the children were highlighted. There were reports on the increased risk of grooming and cyberbullying against children, as well as victims' difficulty to report such cases during periods of isolation.
The fact that schools were closed and the contact with health professionals and service providers in general was reduced, seems to have had a negative effect on reporting violence and neglect against children. Significant reference and analysis was made on the difficulties faced by various groups of children, including children with disabilities, children from low socio-economic backgrounds and children on the move - unaccompanied children, especially in accessing education and support services.
The conference gave a voice to the children who shared their pandemic experience and the feelings they experienced both during the isolation and when they returned back to school. Among other things, they strongly expressed the need to emphasize on their mental health, in addition to meeting the needs of formal education and the need to equip all schools with the filed professionals to provide emotional support and guidance the children who need it.
Finally, the importance of the situation was emphasized as well as the multidimensional the joint efforts happening to recognize and embrace children as a vulnerable group that has undergone major changes in its daily life and has faced several challenges during the pandemic.
The entire conference is available on the YouTube channel of "Hope For Children" CRC Policy Center, while for more information you can call +357 22103234.