Representatives of the Ombudsman’s Office participate in the annual conference of the European Network of Ombudspersons for Children

Representatives of the Ombudsman’s Office attended the 27th annual conference “Covid-19 and children’s rights: a lesson for the future” and the meeting of the General Assembly, it was organized by the European Network of Ombudspersons for Children (ENOC) in Athens from 27 to 29 September.

The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on children’s rights was discussed during the ENOC conference, focusing on areas such as education, health, protection from violence, poverty, and children’s right to participate in decision-making. Child mental health issues during the pandemic were specifically addressed.

The pandemic caused by the Covid-19 virus has had serious consequences for children’s education. Distance learning cannot ensure the quality and skills that children would need to acquire in an educational institution. There was talk of the need for educators to provide more support to children, given the difficulties previously encountered with distance learning. In most cases, children’s views on pandemic restrictions were not heard. When adopting the new restrictions, it would be important for countries to be aware of the potential consequences for children of the overall consequences of the spread of the Covid-19 virus, caused by pandemic restrictions.

Restrictions created economic hardship for families and increased poverty. Countries should provide support to families, especially those whose parents have lost their jobs because of the Covid-19 pandemic. The conference praised the benefit of 500 euros (for each child) granted to families with children in Latvia, as well as providing free lunches for 1.-4. class pupils, which municipalities continued during distance learning.