The pandemic is hitting one section the hardest: The Children

By: Astha, Chiara

Published On: May 19, 2021

Since 2020, the pandemic has affected the lives of 1.39 billion people across India.

The government has imposed containment measures on and off for well over a year now. Although necessary, the situation has adversely taken a toll on the employment of several middle-class and below-poverty-line (BPL) families. The lives of children belonging to such families have upturned completely. 

The containment measures are taking an unthinkable toll on children - a social, emotional, and academic ordeal so extreme that it may brew into a social disaster in the near future. Children across India are coping with trauma, illness, and disruption in all aspects of their lives. The uncertainty of the vaccine roll-outs for children adds to the anxiety. During these times, the children of India are at risk of abuse and immense distress. 

Examine some of the ill-effects that the containment measures have had on children’s lives during the pandemic.

Stunted education 

Given the concerns about the transmission of the virus among children, the schools have been shut for well over a year now. Cut off from their peers, all children are now expected to be homeschooled using tech support. Teachers are conducting online classes and managing to reach through to children. 

  • But the children from BPL families who live in low-lying areas may not have access to internet facilities or gadgets. 
  • Besides, children who live in cramped spaces are unable to completely focus on their studies. 

Thus, the onslaught of the pandemic has drastically stunted the education of children. 

Compromised Nutrition 

Thousands of families across India have lost their livelihood in the wake of the pandemic. But the lower economic class has taken the hardest brunt of the lockdown. The virus has pushed laborers and menial workers into poverty. In states such as Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh, the condition is so bad that affording food and ration has become a problem. The loss of employment doesn’t allow the parents of the children to afford proper 2-square meals. They are left unfed and malnourished due to extreme poverty. 

Leaving them to be COVIDorphans

The 2nd wave of COVID-19 is washing away thousands of lives across India. According to Hindustan Times, a significant number of people lost during the pandemic are in their 30s and 40s. In many cases, the children of the people in this age group have lost both their parents to the virus. Such children are rendered homeless with no one to foster them. 

During the pandemic, authorities reported a 17% increase in distress calls from children. 

The addresses of the orphaned children are being floated on WhatsApp in order to help them. While some children move in with their relatives in unfavorable conditions, some have nowhere to go. 

Unhealthy Coping Mechanisms

In close quarters, children living in cramped spaces in the slums and shanties are at a higher risk of enduring abuse and violence in the household. The factors mentioned above can cause immense psychological distress. Such children are left with no one to confide in and resort to unhealthy coping mechanisms. They act out by abandoning their education. Some even turn to harmful intoxication like drugs and alcohol. 

All these unseen ill-effects on children could be socially disastrous for our country. Considering all these factors, life as a child during the pandemic is not easy. 

The psychological impacts of the pandemic on children can be curbed. In today’s times, they need to be catered to on a personal level in each household. 

Apply these mood-boosters to help your child cope in these trying times of COVID. 

Here’s how you can soothe your child during the pandemic (