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Helping Prevent Child Abuse and Neglect during the Covid-19 Pandemic

Children's playground being closed, due to Coronavirus, in Meridian, USA.

As the current pandemic impacts the well-being and development of children, Arigatou International, together with the International Society for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect, ISPCAN, organized a webinar on The Emotional and Spiritual Impact of COVID-19 on Children: Faith and Spiritual Nourishment as Key Factors for the Protection and Resilience of Children.

This webinar, which was held on 23 April 2020, was attended by 370 participants from 71 countries, and it is part of a series of weekly sessions organized by ISPCAN to support professionals that work toward the prevention and treatment of child abuse, neglect, and exploitation.

Ms. Maria Lucia Uribe, Director of Arigatou International Geneva, and Ms. Silvia Mazzarelli, GNRC Coordinator for Latin America and the Caribbean, led the discussion, focusing on the impact of the global pandemic and national lockdown measures on children’s emotions and spirituality. They reflected on the positive role of faith and spiritual nourishment in children’s lives as a source of resilience and protection, in the context of adverse situations that impact child development, and the role of religious leaders and communities.

Ms. Mazzarelli elaborated on the spiritual development of the child as a key element in their growth, and further examined the impact of Covid-19 in the spiritual wellbeing of children.

“if children are “spiritual beings” and can connect easily to their spiritual dimension (sometimes even better than us adults), we should listen more to them and learn from them; at the same times it should lead us to see them as agents of their own spiritual development, which puts us in a different role, a role of “facilitators” and not “teachers”. 

Ms. Uribe introduced “Faith in Action for Children”, a response campaign developed by Arigatou International to support and empower children during the COVID-19 Pandemic. The global effort focuses on mobilizing religious communities and child protection experts to protect children from violence and support their spiritual well-being; promoting approaches for parents, caregivers and teachers to foster children’s spiritual safety and well-being during and after the lockdown, and raising the voices of children and young people to foster ethical reflections on the impact of COVID-19 on the world today and empower them to contribute to the transformation of our world.

“An empowered child, a child that can think critically, a child that can speak up his/her views, a child that is aware of the social reality and understands the consequences of his/her actions on others, a child that practices empathy and solidarity with others, and is aware of the interconnectedness of life, and is equipped to respond, is a child whose spirituality is nurtured and affirmed,” said Ms. Uribe.

She highlighted Learning to Live Together - An Activity Booklet for Children during the Covid-19 Pandemic, a newly launched resource for parents and caregivers to use with children aged 4 to 18. The booklet aims to help strengthen family bonds, nurture children’s spirituality, and provide learning opportunities for them to reflect on ethical challenges, develop their imagination and critical thinking, and think of concrete ways they can still connect with one another, while still practicing safe physical distancing.

We thank ISPCAN for inviting Arigatou International to lead this timely conversation, and the participants for their insights and commitment in working for the wellbeing of children.

You can see the recording of the webinar, here.

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