NEW DELHI: Vulnerable children have experienced severe stress about the impending uncertainties due to the ongoing pandemic with over 91% migrant households having reported the loss of income and 60% of households reporting lack of money to buy food, a study 'A Generation at Stake: Protecting India's Children from the impact of COVID-19' by Save the Children showed. Data was collected from two population groups.
While one part of the survey was conducted in Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Assam, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Jammu and Kashmir, Odisha, Karnataka, and Telangana with a sample size of 992 parents and 754 children between 11-17 years, data for migrant groups were collected from Jharkhand. The latter comprised 606 parents and 235 children between 11-17 years.
Access to education continued to be a barrier among poverty-stricken households with two-thirds of children having access to one or two types of learning material. While one out of 10 children said they would not be returning to schools or do not know whether they would return to schools once they reopen, a significant number of children reported having no contact from teachers since the closure of schools, the survey said. Three out of every four children reported an increase in negative feelings since the outbreak of the pandemic.
Among the migrants' group, 17% of the children reported violence in their homes during the pandemic exposing the vulnerability of children.
35% of the participants reported facing barriers in accessing healthcare, medication, and menstrual products, and 44% of the households and 47% of the migrants' group reported not having access to preventive supplies like masks.
Among the programme participants, 7% of respondents also cited challenges in securing water delivery, and the percentage was worse among migrant families at 27%. 37% programme participants who lost their income due to COVID-19 reported that they experienced difficulties in paying for healthcare or medical supplies. Among migrant participants, more than half the respondents said they faced similar challenges.
"Our findings show that the economic shocks endured during the pandemic have had a correlation with the increase in violence against both adults and children, as well as the increase in domestic chores and caring duties - particularly for girls - and reduced mental health and well-being," said Sudarshan Suchi, CEO, Save the Children.