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HOME  > Past issues  > 2020 April 22 - May 12  > Gov’t anti-coronavirus measures should pay more attention to children’s rights
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2020 April 22 - May 12 [SOCIAL ISSUES]

Gov’t anti-coronavirus measures should pay more attention to children’s rights

May 5, 2020
Akahata editorial (excerpts)

May 5 is Children’s Day in Japan. Amid the ongoing coronavirus crisis, children are now putting up with various restrictions and feeling confused.

“Why can’t I go to school?” (a first grader). “I’m sad because I can’t meet my friends” (a fourth grader). “Recently I have to stay home with my families all day so I often feel frustrated.” (a fifth grader). These are comments made in a survey of children conducted by the Japanese Communist Party Hirakata/Katano District Committee in Osaka.

Tokyo-based international NGO Save the Children Japan on May 3 released the results of its survey of the impact of the coronavirus outbreak on children. Asked what problems they are facing, 31.4% of the children said that they cannot lead a normal life and have to remain at home and 16.0% expressed anxiety about their physical and mental health and further spread of COVID-19. Regarding a question about their demand for government coronavirus countermeasures, 15.6% cited infection prevention measures, 13.0% noted measures to help them adjust to a new form of school life, and 9.3% wanted the government to provide more information and respect children’s opinions.

Answers in the survey include: “Please give my mon and dad a day off” (a second grader); “Give support money to coronavirus patients and their families” (a fourth grader); “The government should test more people for the coronavirus” (a junior high school freshman); and “Children were deprived of their opportunity for education. The government should do something to compensate for the loss of classes and provide a thorough explanation to us” (a high school sophomore).

The coronavirus epidemic has also affected the well-being of pre-school children because municipal governments have cancelled or postponed public health check-ups for infants and child-rearing support events and also because many nursery schools and kindergartens have closed.

When implementing the anti-coronavirus measures, the national and local governments should take into account the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. They should provide necessary information to the general public, ensure that every child can have an equal education opportunity and learn and develop in the way that best suits them.

Governments at the national and local levels should fine-tune support measures for children with disabilities, non-attending students, children who cannot stay at home due to various reasons, children with LGBTQ identities, and those with foreign backgrounds. Support for children in low-income families is essential. In addition, the urgent need is to take measures to cope with the increased risk of child abuse and neglect in the home.
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