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04.05.2020 Opinion

When Parents Are Away From Home, What Do The Little Ones Do?

By Nana Antwi Boasiako Brempong Of CRADA
When Parents Are Away From Home, What Do The Little Ones Do?
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The President’s decision to lift the ban on restrictions in the Greater Accra, Greater Kumasi and Kasoa areas has provided a big relief for those affected by the partial lockdown.

But considering the impact of the lifting of the ban on children, we at Child Research for Action and Development Agency (CRADA), think Ghanaians especially parents, have very serious issues to ponder over.

Just consider this: In a situation where both father and mother leave the home very early in the morning and return late at night, what happens to the children left behind? We are referring to children aged between six months and fifteen years old who are at home because schools have been closed down.

As a child safety organization, CRADA thinks the vulnerability of children in this situation has to be considered seriously because of the devastating effect of the COVID-19.

We start with little children between six months and three years old who suddenly may suffer from “separation anxiety” because a restored or growing bondage with their mothers has suddenly been severed.

How do these infants adjust emotionally in this day and age where the internet has become a “vital tool” for children because of COVID-19?

How do we ensure that screen time doesn’t turn into an increased risk of online harm such as “cyberbullying” and disinformation? How do we control any or all of these effects on older children?

Are those we leave our children under their care old and knowledgeable enough to understand basic welfare issues and protection of the safety of children and even their rights? Are they well versed in COVID-19 issues?

What food do they eat in the absence of their parents to boost their body’s immunity?

Do they indeed observe the COVID-19 protocols with respect to social distancing while their parents are away? An answer a 13 year old boy in New York provided when he was asked a similar question can provide a food for thought. He said: “It is hard to social distance when there are so many people.”

Maybe, we the adults are yet to give any serious thought to this: How can children left alone in the house be spared the effects of the coronavirus because as humans they are also at risk. There is the likelihood that they can also go out and return home with the infection unknowingly because they handle money and other agents of the disease when they go out. So potentially, they are also equally at risk.

The conclusion therefore is that they can bring the disease home to affect their parents. This means they can easily be exposed to the risk factors by refusing to wash their hands with soap as often as possible or use the hand sanitizer

So what steps do parents need to take to keep their children safe while they are away to work?

CRADA strongly recommends that appropriately, parents should follow these steps:

1) Ensure that an elderly person, at least, a young adult is left at home to provide or render child care service.

2) Ensure that their kids are truly confined and not to loiter about.

3) Sanitizers or water is always available for the children to follow the precautionary steps especially after going out to buy items or play with friends.

4) Parents whose wards use the computers for all sort of activities are advised to install softwares that can track their children’s activity online to be able to protect their children from inappropriate content. They can also invest in online classes for their children to gain knowledge that can impact positively on their education and health.

5) They can also install CCTV in their homes so they can to be able to monitor what their children do at home when they are away.

Below is a piece of information from the Minister of Education which was posted on the Ghana Education Service facebook page, I would like to share;

The following steps may also come in handy in managing your child’s time and maximize study time;

• Draw a simple timetable or schedule with breaks for rest, play or meals.

• Give them simple tasks and assess them orally and correct them appropriately.

• Encourage them to take on new healthy hobbies.

• Incorporate physical education/ exercise into your day to day activities to cope with staying indoors for long periods.

• Create a safe environment for children to learn and thrive and avoid over burdening them with chores

• Strengthen your relationship with your children’s school teachers and administrators to receive ongoing support with learning at home.

In conclusion, we say that as much as we the adults need constant education on COVID-19, our children also have to be provided information regularly. They should constantly be reminded to avoid the spread of the disease. To stay safe we should not only engage them when odd news about the huge number of the death toll drops.

Essentially, we should avoid creating fear and panic among our children and also teach them why we should avoid stigmatizing victims of the pandemic.

Nana AntwiBoasiakoBrempong

Child Research for Action and Development Agency (CRADA Group)

Executive Secretary

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