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Goodbye 2020: Reflections on children, violence and COVID-19

7 January 2021
updates from the Fund

As we close up this challenging year, we are taking stock of all that has happened in 2020. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected us all, and it has especially affected children. An estimated 463 million children – one third of the world’s school children – are unable to access remote learning during the pandemic. We know that this disproportionately affects children in poverty, and disproportionately affects girls, resulting in greater risk of physical and sexual violence, child marriage, child labor and trafficking. Some studies indicate a rise in the number of calls made to police and service hotlines, whereas other studies show no change or a decrease in call volume, raising the alarm of underreporting, especially by children, as victims are less able to report violence and mandatory reporters (such as teachers) are less likely to spot it.  

While many studies have focused on whether or not violence has increased during the pandemic (with many indicating yes, there has been an increase, according to a recent review), there is little research that has looked at ‘what works’ to prevent violence during COVID-19. This should serve as a reminder: violence is preventable, and there is a need for greater research on what works to prevent violence against children. 

As we roll into the New Year, we are setting our sights on prevention and are working with our partners to continue pursuing research and dissemination on what works to reducing VAC. In particular, we are placing a special focus on research uptake – the process of moving from evidence generation to utilization. We’ll be sharing our insights from this capacity strengthening process in the coming months. Until then, stay up-to-date with the Fund’s activities by joining our newsletter.