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President of Arigatou International Joins Global Leaders Advocating for Children Amidst COVID-19 Pandemic

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Rev. Keishi Miyamoto, President of Arigatou International, has joined a diverse group of global leaders in endorsing the following Leaders Statement, "Violence against children: A hidden crisis of the COVID-19 pandemic," issued by the Global Partnership to End Violence against Children.


Violence against children: A hidden crisis of the COVID-19 pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic is having a devastating impact across the world. Efforts to contain the coronavirus are vital to the health of the world’s population, but they are also exposing children to increased risk of violence – including maltreatment, gender-based violence and sexual exploitation.

As leaders of organisations committed to ending violence against children, we come together in solidarity to share our deep concern, call for action and pledge our support to protect children from violence and reduce the impact of COVID-19 on children in every country and community.

A third of the global population is on COVID-19 lockdown, and school closures have impacted more than 1.5 billion children. Movement restrictions, loss of income, isolation, overcrowding and high levels of stress and anxiety are increasing the likelihood that children experience and observe physical, psychological and sexual abuse at home – particularly those children already living in violent or dysfunctional family situations. And while online communities have become central to maintain many children’s learning, support and play, it is also increasing their exposure to cyberbullying, risky online behavior and sexual exploitation.

The situation is aggravated by children’s lack of access to schoolfriends, teachers, social workers and the safe space and services that schools provide. The most vulnerable children – including refugees, migrants, and children who are internally displaced, deprived of liberty, living without parental care, living on the street and in urban slums, with disabilities, and living in conflict-affected areas – are a particular concern. For many, growing economic vulnerability will increase the threat of child labour, child marriage and child trafficking.

We must act now. Together, we call on governments, the international community and leaders in every sector to urgently respond with a united effort to protect children from the heightened risk of violence, exploitation and abuse as part of the broader response to COVID-19.

Governments have a central role to play. They must ensure that COVID-19 prevention and response plans integrate age appropriate and gender sensitive measures to protect all children from violence, neglect and abuse. Child protection services and workers must be designated as essential and resourced accordingly.

Working with and supporting governments, our collective response must include: maintaining essential health and social welfare services, including mental health and psychosocial support; providing child protection case management and emergency alternative care arrangements; ensuring social protection for the most vulnerable children and households; continuing care and protection for children in institutions; and communicating with and engaging parents, caregivers and children themselves with evidence-based information and advice. National helplines, school counsellors and other child-friendly reporting mechanisms enable children in distress to reach out for help, and must be adapted to the challenges of COVID-19.

Given the heightened risks of online harms, technology companies and telecoms providers must do everything they can to keep children safe online. This includes providing access to cost-free child helplines, age-appropriate services and safe e-education platforms - and using their platforms to share child online safety advice. They must also do more to detect and stop harmful activity against children online, including grooming and the creation and distribution of child sexual abuse images and videos.

As global organisations working to end violence against children, we will continue to advocate for and invest in effective child protection solutions. We will collectively develop and share technical resources and guidance for policymakers, practitioners, parents, caregivers and children themselves. And we will support the courageous health, child protection and humanitarian professionals working around the clock to keep children safe during these unprecedented times.

In recent years, the global community has made significant gains in protecting children from violence. We must not allow those gains to be lost during the current turmoil. We must do all we can to keep children safe now. And we must plan ahead together, so that once the immediate health crisis is over, we can get back on track towards the goal of ending all forms of violence, abuse and neglect of children.

 

Signatories

Henrietta H. Fore Signature

Henrietta H. Fore, Executive Director, UNICEF;
Board Chair, End Violence Against Children

 

Najat Maalla M’jid Signature

Najat Maalla M’jid,
Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Violence against Children

 

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka Signature

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka,
Executive Director, UN Women

 

Dr Joan Nyanyuki Signature

Dr. Joan Nyanyuki,
Executive Director, African Child Policy Forum

 

Rev. Keishi Miyamoto Signature

Rev. Keishi Miyamoto,
President, Arigatou International

 

Meg Gardinier Signature

Meg Gardinier,
Secretary General, ChildFund Alliance

 

Patrick Krens Signature

Patrick Krens,
Executive Director, Child Helpline International

 

Robbert Van Den Berg Signature

Robbert Van Den Berg,
Executive Director, ECPAT International

 

Dr. Howard Taylor Signature

Dr. Howard Taylor,
Executive Director, End Violence Against Children

 

Tufail Muhammad Signature

Tufail Muhammad,
President, ISPCAN

 

Anne-Birgitte Albrectsen Signature

Anne-Birgitte Albrectsen,
CEO, Plan International

Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus Signature

Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus,
Director-General, WHO

 

Virginia Gamba Signature

Virginia Gamba,
United Nations Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict

 

Inger Ashing Signature

Inger Ashing,
CEO, Save the Children International

 

Steffen Braasch Signature

Steffen Braasch,
CEO, SOS Children’s Villages International

 

Delphine Moralis Signature

Delphine Moralis,
CEO, Terre des Hommes

 

Dr. Daniela Ligiero Signature

Dr. Daniela Ligiero,
Executive Director and CEO, Together for Girls

 

Iain Drennan Signature

Iain Drennan, Executive Director,
WePROTECT Global Alliance

 

Dr. Joanna Rubinstein Signature

Dr. Joanna Rubinstein,
President and CEO, World Childhood Foundation USA

 

Rev. Dr. Olav Fykse Tveit Signature

Rev. Dr. Olav Fykse Tveit,
General Secretary, World Council of Churches

 

Andrew Morley Signature

Andrew Morley,
President and CEO, World Vision International