The Covid-19 pandemic has adversely affected children on an unprecedented scale, making it the worst crisis for children Unicef has seen in its 75-year history.
In a recently released report Preventing a Lost Decade: Urgent Action to Reverse the Devastating Impact of Covid-19 on Children and Young People, Unicef highlights numerous ways in which the pandemic has set back decades of progress on key childhood challenges such as poverty, health, access to education, nutrition, child protection and mental well-being. It warns that almost two years into the pandemic, the widespread impact of Covid-19 continues to deepen, intensifying poverty, entrenching inequality and threatening the rights of children to an unprecedented extent.
“Throughout our history, Unicef has helped to shape healthier and safer environments for children across the globe, with great results for millions,” says Henrietta Fore, executive director, Unicef. “These gains are now at risk. The pandemic has been the biggest threat to progress for children in our 75-year history. While the number of children who are hungry, out of school, abused, living in poverty or forced into marriage is going up, the number of children with access to health care, vaccines, sufficient food and essential services is going down.”
Children can learn the art of forgiveness
Teaching children to understand other people’s perspectives makes it easier for them to learn how to forgive people, says a recent study conducted by psychologists of North Carolina State University, USA. The study also says that teaching children to make sincere apologies prompts them to seek forgiveness from others.
“Forgiveness is important in children and adults for restoring relationships and limiting future conflicts,” says Kelly Lynn Mulvey, lead author of the study and an associate professor of psychology at North Carolina State University.
Mulvey and her team who surveyed 185 children, between the ages of five and 14, concluded that children are more likely to forgive someone if they apologise. “We found that kids have sophisticated abilities to forgive others. Children are capable of restoring relationships with others, and are usually interested in doing so,” says Mulvey.
Male children face more abuse than girls when playing sports
Three-quarters of children experience abuse when playing games and sports with male children more likely to be victims than girls. A study of more than 10,000 children in six European countries — The Child Abuse in Sport: European Statistics (CASES) — released in November, says that nearly two-thirds of children polled had suffered psychological abuse and 44 percent experienced physical violence.
“Our findings are obviously of great concern. We have seen a number of high-profile cases of child abuse in sport in recent times, but this research helps us to understand the scale of the problem more clearly,” says Prof. Mike Hartill, lead author and professor at Edge Hill University, UK.
The highest incidence of abuse is among children who compete internationally — 84 percent have experienced some form of abuse.
Mental health of parent and children deeply inter-connected
Asecondary analysis of the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study has found that a mother’s mental health impacts the child’s and vice versa. The study conducted by researchers of Cizik School of Nursing at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth Houston) and published in the Journal of Affective Disorders (December), investigated mother and child mental health symptoms over a ten-year period. It provides new insights into the incidence of depression and anxiety in nuclear family households.
“By focusing on mother-child duos, we identified that maternal depression at an earlier time point predicted child anxiety and depressive symptoms at a later time point. Further, children who experienced anxiety and depressive symptoms at an earlier time point were more likely to have mothers who experienced depression at later time points,” says Daphne Hernandez, associate professor in the School of Nursing and senior author.