Impact of COVID-19 on children during lockdown: Cause of concern

Meijianthaipou Ruangmei (Francis)
Contd from prev issue
This prolonged home confinement leaves negative effects on physical and mental health of children, adults and the elderly. This evidence was reflected from recent and past health disasters (COVID-19 china, Ebola African countries 2014-16 and SARS-CO, Asian countries 2003). There are issues in children during lockdown such children are physically less active, unlimited screen time, irregular sleep patterns, less favorable diets, weight gain or loss, and loss of cardiorespiratory fitness and  stressors in such as infection related fear, frustration and boredom. Besides, absence of in-person contact with classmates, friends and teachers, personal space at home and outdoor activities. These psychosocial changes, adds vulnerability to poor psychosocial health and can lead to problematic and enduring effects on children and adolescents even on the productivity in adult years. Therefore, caring for the children and teenagers during lockdown is going to be extra task for parents; but it is of utmost importance. Parents too are affected but it is important that they should have proper information, enhance self-care and hygiene, tolerance, acceptance, patience, reconciliation and forgiveness, and respect the ‘me time’ of everyone even under the same roof. It is utmost importance to be aware about the vulnerabilities of the children, their anxieties and activities. Once parents are able to care and understand them, children eventually return to their normal functioning with consistent and constant support. This would help in channelizing their efforts to ensure minimal impacts on children and adolescent. During this lockdown it is imperative that parents have plans to channelize the physical energies of children properly, and communicate with them patiently and empathetically to reduce physical fights with siblings, anger outbursts and argumentative behaviours. This experience is new to the children and to the parents and children might not know how to handle situations of seeing each other for a long duration, how to deal with routine boredom, frequent handwashing and forgetting to keep physical distancing and so on. It is important that parents should have some checks and discuss and negotiate for controlled internet based activities and not to resort to it alone. Make sure parents fix a time for them and encourage them to pursue alternative interests and develop new healthy interests. Every members of society should pull our acts together to help children in difficult circumstances. Those children might be subjected to abuse (physical, emotional and sexual abuse). There are instances of exploitation and safety of the child should be ensured. Children in difficult circumstances are not in a situation to redress their grievances therefore we should help them to get in touch with District Protection Team or CWC or help them to reach juvenile police units or police station.  Above all children in institutional care are already having inherent effects of institutionalization. They are deprived on psychosocial needs and high on stress level, substandard hygiene practices, difficulties of physical distancing, disproportionate numbers, and though visitors could be banned, the infected staff and caregivers could affect the children. Therefore the staff and care givers should recognize enhanced vulnerability and undertake necessary steps to prevent outbreaks and support children, increased monitoring and supporting of vulnerable children in families as well as institutions. It is essential to avoid unnecessary family separation, see if children could be sent back to families during time/period in possible cases. Citizens of all colors should be extra vigilant to not let children fall into wrong hands and be made to suffer by our negligence.
About the author :
Assistant Prof.
Department of Social Work
St Joseph University, Dimapur.