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Children will be long-term casualties of pandemic, says rights group

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A teacher, wearing a face mask to fight against the spread of the coronavirus during school at the Heembeek primary school in Brussels, Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2020.
A teacher, wearing a face mask to fight against the spread of the coronavirus during school at the Heembeek primary school in Brussels, Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2020.   -   Copyright  Francisco Seco/Copyright 2020 The Associated Press.All rjghts reserved
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Almost one year after the first lockdown in Belgium, parents are still worried about the long-term impact school closures are having on their children.

One mother-of-four spoke to Euronews under the condition of anonymity from the south of the country, saying that she felt helpless in trying to help her child.

"My daughter, I was so scared for her and her mental health," she said. "She wasn't going to school. She wasn't seeing friends or teachers. She closed in on herself. She developed physical issues to express, in her own way, that she didn't understand what was going on and that she couldn't see her friends. As a mother, it is hard to see your little girl like that."

And according to one study by Eurochild — a children's rights group in Brussels — the pandemic has created severe social and emotional disruption.

"Our experiences in childhood last a lifetime, so what children are experiencing will be carried through into adulthood," Jana Hainsworth, Eurochild's secretary-general, told Euronews.

"Children grow through social interaction... but this level of interruption, as children are growing and finding their identity, can be really devastating."

Eurochild says lockdowns and school closures are seriously exacerbating social inequality and that children will become the long-term causalities of COVID-19.