This document intents to provide some basic guideline for child protection actors who intent to restart PSS activities after no or strongly reduced service delivery due the covid-19 pandemic. These activities can take place in Child Friendly Spaces (CFS), in schools or in the community.
This document is NOT an endorsement to restart activities. The decision to restart activities should be based on guidelines from the state authorities and from the WHO. This document does NOT encourage or refrain actors from starting.
1. What we should know:
Safety is the first priority. Follow all hygiene advice as promoted by WHO and the authorities.
Take into account that different children experienced the absence of PSS activities in different ways.
For some children it might have been a period of bonding with their family.
For other children it was a stressful period in which the emotional availability of caregivers declined due to anxieties in the family about covid19 and food security.
For some children significant others might have passed away.
Some children had anxiety out of fear of catching the disease or loosing significant others.
The lack of social contact that PSS activities provided might cause depressions or make depression worse. This is especially so for adolescents.
COVID-19 caused a sharp rise in physical violence against children.
Children may have witnessed domestic violence at home and in the community
For most children, the restarting of PSS activities is a feast, a sign that the normality that they were familiar with and felt safe in is coming back. Yet, different children react and cope with the past period in different ways.
Some children need to tell how they experienced what happened again and again.
Extrovert children might turn temporarily introvert and become quiet.
Some children will act out, including becoming uncooperative or aggressive.
Some children will have body aches that can medically not be explained.
Some children will behave younger than they used to behave.
For many children, the boundaries of their comfort zone have changed. It can be that initially they are reluctant to come of out their homes for long periods. Consider starting PSS activities with a short duration and gradually build up to previous levels.
Partners providing Child Friendly Spaces (CFS) should have adequate personnel, so that staff can observe children to be able to pick out those children that may be in need of specialized counselling/therapy and support them to access these services