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#COVID under19: Children’s rights during the coronavirus pandemic

Children and young people feel the government is not listening to them during the coronavirus pandemic and this is a cause for concern in light of international children’s rights. This is the conclusion of a recent report by a research team from Leiden University on how children and youngsters have been affected by the coronavirus pandemic in the Netherlands.

How have children and young people been affected during the coronavirus pandemic in the Netherlands and what advice do they have for policymakers? These questions formed the basis of a recently published research report (in English and in Dutch) written by Ton Liefaard, Judi Mesman, Anna Booij, Irsa Hanssen and Bo van Amerongen of Leiden University. Their research on how almost 280 children and young people have been affected by the measures to fight Covid-19 shows that the Dutch policy on the crisis is at odds with international children’s rights.  There are concerns about vulnerable groups of children for whom the impact of the measures to combat the virus appears to be greater than for other children. Children and young people also let it be known that they feel the Dutch government is not listening to them. The policy to deal with the coronavirus is affecting their lives, but they are not consulted about it.

As a party to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), the Netherlands is obliged to safeguard the rights of children. This obligation also applies during a pandemic that has a huge impact on the daily lives of children. The research shows that the pandemic and the measures to combat the virus affects, among other things, the right to education (Arts. 28 and 29 CRC), the right to be safe and be protected (Arts. 19, 34, 39 CRC), the right to engage in play, recreational activities and leisure (Art. 31 CRC) and the right to be heard (Art. 12 CRC). It is vital that there is awareness of the areas in which Dutch children and young people have experienced a deterioration in their lives since the start of the coronavirus crisis, even if this only concerns a minority. This minority group in particular requires the attention of policymakers during this crisis in order to prevent structural inequalities leading to a growing gap between advantaged and disadvantaged groups. 'Measures to protect public health are very important, but these must be more in line with the development of children and their rights’, according to the researchers.

The research was conducted as part of the international research project #Covidunder19, the largest global research project into children and young people during the coronavirus pandemic.

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