Pandemic brings added misery for Indonesian children

Indonesian children celebrate National Children's Day on July 23 in an activity held online because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Photo: UCAN/courtesy of Women’s Empowerment and Child Protection Ministry
Indonesian children celebrate National Children's Day on July 23 in an activity held online because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Photo: UCAN/courtesy of Women’s Empowerment and Child Protection Ministry

JAKARTA (UCAN): More than half of Indonesia’s almost 80 million children have been the target of verbal and physical abuse by their parents during the Covid-19 coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) pandemic, according to a recently released government report from the Women’s Empowerment and Child Protection Ministry.

At least 50 million were subjected to such abuse, ministry head, I Gusti Bintang Ayu Puspayoga.  

“It goes without saying that parents, families and society should respect and ensure children’s rights,” the minister she said in a speech on July 23 to mark National Children’s Day.

“Any form of discrimination and violence (against children) seriously impacts their mental health,” she said.

Beating and excessive scolding, which parents claim are ways of teaching children, are unacceptable, Puspayoga said, adding, “Such practices must be stopped.” 

Arist Merdeka Sirait, chairperson of the National Commission on Child Protection, said the Covid-19 pandemic has created added pressure on families, but it was no excuse to treat children badly.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has caused many parents to lose their jobs resulting in no income to support their families. But this should not be a reason to get violent with children. Unfortunately children are often seen as an easy target to vent their frustration on,” Sirait said.

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He said the new school year started on July 13 but the government has ordered schools to conduct distance learning, which means that such abuse will likely continue.

Desi Andriyani, who lost her job at a company in Jakarta, said she often pinches and scolds her children because they play games on smartphones too much and neglect their studies.

“I do it to make them aware of the negative impact addiction to games has on them,” she explained.

She admitted that the uncertainty the Covid-19 pandemic has brought left her frustrated and that she would be more mindful in how she treats her children in the future.

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