Protecting children from violence in the time of COVID-19

Disruptions in prevention and response services

A young girl plays with toys as she waits to begin her counselling session at Somali Women's Development Center (SWDC) in Mogadishu, Somalia.


As daily lives and communities are upended by COVID-19, concern is mounting that children’s exposure to violence may increase. Children with a history of abuse may find themselves even more vulnerable, both at home and online, and may experience more frequent and severe acts of violence. Others may be victimized for the first time.

This UNICEF publication, Protecting Children from Violence in the Time of COVID-19: Disruptions in prevention and response services, documents what has happened to such services across the world:

  • 1.8 billion children live in the 104 countries where violence prevention and response services have been disrupted due to COVID-19.
  • Case management and home visits for children and women at risk of abuse are among the most commonly disrupted services.
  • Around two thirds of countries with disruptions reported that at least one type of service had been severely affected; however, two thirds of countries reported that mitigating measures had been put into place.

In times of crisis, governments should prioritize maintaining or adapting critical prevention and response services to protect children from violence, including designating social service workers as essential and ensuring they are protected, strengthening child helplines, and making positive parenting resources available.

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