Angelina Jolie has written a powerful new essay, advocating for children who are vulnerable to abuse amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. The actress and humanitarian shared her concerns for TIME magazine, discussing how the surge in domestic violence since the coronavirus outbreak could place children at risk.
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"COVID-19 has cut children off from their friends, their regular schooling and their freedom of movement," she wrote. "With well over a billion young people living under lockdown worldwide, there has been a lot of focus on how to prevent children missing out on their education, as well as how to lift their spirits and keep them joyful in isolation."
Jolie explained that the absence of support networks due to lockdown means that there are fewer adult eyes monitoring the situation – a particularly dangerous outcome for child abuse cases, where “Child Protective Services are most often called by third parties such as teachers, guidance counsellors, after school program coordinators and coaches.”
The actress continued to stress that while these children may not be as susceptible to the virus as other groups, they are facing many of the secondary impacts the pandemic has had on society.
“Lockdowns and stay at home orders have resulted in job losses and economic insecurity, increasing pressure and uncertainty for many families. We know that stress at home increases the risk of domestic violence, whether in a developed economy or a refugee camp."
Her fears have been echoed here in Australia, with federal education minister Dan Tehan reinforcing that the federal government is remaining firm on their decision to keep schools open following the Easter break.
While they have faced considerable backlash for their approach with many other countries around the world shutting down schools weeks ago, Tehan stated in his address that “when it comes to parents who have to work and vulnerable children, schools have to be open and have to make sure that they provide a safe learning environment for those children.”
You can read Angelina Jolie’s essay in its entirety, here.