Children have a right to feel secure in their homes, environments and places outside of their immediate environment, says the organisation.
They need to move freely without fear of attack or abuse and it is the responsibility of parents, duty bearers and the wider community to provide such safe environments. Children should have safe toys, resources and materials needed for their holistic development. They should receive effective protection from all forms of abuse and exploitation, the organisation adds.
More than a year since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, children continue to grapple with unprecedented hardships. The global health crisis prompted lockdown efforts that raised the risk of violence, hunger, child labour, child marriage and school dropouts. It also curtailed opportunities for children to engage in activities aimed at promoting their right to be heard, the organisation highlights.
The global statistics are definitive, the social and economic impact of the pandemic will last for many years to come, especially for those living in vulnerable circumstances. There are reports of climbing poverty rates and deepening inequality in education, SOS adds.
"Yet there is hope. It is possible to find opportunity in crisis and build a more sustainable and equitable future for tomorrow's adults. It starts with strengthening families so that children can grow up with stable relationships," says the organisation.
"In these difficult times, we must provide increased social protection services and direct support to struggling families so they can stay together. It is essential that we secure access to education for all children and youth and invest in reducing the digital divide. And we must not underestimate the mental health toll of the pandemic," says SOS.
"Now more than ever, young people, especially those who have no one to fall back on, need psychological support, guidance and encouragement — from mental health professionals, caregivers, mentors and peers," SOS Children's Villages says.
SOS Children's Villages concludes that it is determined to be part of efforts to support children and young people at risk, to work towards a world that is safe for all children.
For more information, visit www.sossouthafrica.org.za
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