States must step up protection of children against sexual exploitation and abuse in times of the COVID-19 confinement, says Council of Europe’s Lanzarote committee

“As more and more countries are locked down, it is a tragic fact that many children, notably children in a vulnerable situation because of a mental or physical disability or a situation of dependence, are trapped with their offenders, be it at home, in out-of-home care, in makeshift refugee camps or facilities where they are deprived of liberty, “ warned George Nikolaidis and Christel De Craim, Chairperson and Vice-Chair of the Lanzarote Committee monitoring compliance of the Council of Europe’s Convention on the protection of children against sexual exploitation and sexual abuse, in a statement published, “State Parties must ensure that all children are confined in safe environments“.

In addition, parents and caregivers confined with children must be supported in coping with their own emotions and behaviour during this crisis, and with protecting their children against all forms of violence. The Council of Europe has developed and collected a series of awareness-raising material available in many languages on a dedicated webpage, focusing not only on spotting and reporting violence against children, but also on such topics as talking to children about COVID-19, managing screen time during the crisis, finding quality content for children online, combining work and home schooling, supporting teenagers during the confinement period, and ensuring children’s online safety in time of social distancing.

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