Protection of child rights deteriorated in some areas due to COVID-19 pandemic, Public Defender’s special report says
The special report on “Child Rights Impact Assessment of COVID-19 Related State Measures in Georgia” was developed with the support of UNICEF
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Tbilisi, Georgia, 18 April, 2022 – The risks of violence against children increased and realization of the right of children to general education became a significant challenge during the pandemic, according to the special report prepared by the Public Defender of Georgia with the support of UNICEF.
The special report on “Child Rights Impact Assessment of COVID-19 Related State Measures in Georgia” reflects the results of a study conducted by the Public Defender's Office on the impact of COVID-19 measures undertaken by the State on children. The research was carried out with the support of UNICEF, within the joint project of the European Network of Ombudspersons for Children (ENOC) and UNICEF.
Findings of the study revealed that during the pandemic the distance learning and isolation increased the risks of violence against children. Moreover, when schools shifted to distance learning, it became difficult to observe emotional, physical signs of violence towards children. Yet, the results of the assessment showed that despite the increased risks, there was no significant increase in referrals to government agencies.
One of the main challenges related to distance learning was lack of awareness among teachers, students, and their family members on the use of relevant digital platforms. In socio-economically vulnerable families and in the regions where internet was not accessible, children had severe problems in accessibility to general education. Significant challenges were identified regarding the effective involvement of children with disabilities and with special educational needs in the educational process.
The study showed that the state care facilities encountered difficulties in managing COVID-19 cases. The isolation affected children's behaviour. Consequently, significant problems were identified in terms of children’s mental health and behaviour challenges. Effective involvement of children with disabilities in distance learning also turned out to be a major challenge.
For effective solutions to the challenges posed by the pandemic, or any other crises, efficient mechanisms and regulations need to be established by the government, the report recommends. In addition, it is important to ensure that children are heard and involved in any child-related decisions or other actions, including in the development of measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
The study covered the state measures that were gradually introduced in response to the pandemic form March 2020 until May 2021. The researchers analyzed those measures that had the most significant impact on children’s right to protection from violence and ill-treatment, the right to general education and protection of child rights in state care. Children were also involved in the information collection process to consider their opinions were heard.
UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.
For more information about UNICEF and its work for children, visit www.unicef.org/georgia/