Angelina Jolie is focused on the most vulnerable during the coronavirus pandemic. A billion children have now been encouraged to stay at home worldwide and that makes children who experience domestic abuse especially at risk. While the virus doesn’t directly affect children in the same way it does adults, it presents indirect or “secondary impacts” on children.
In a recent op-ed for Time, the actor and humanitarian argues “Of the many ways that the pandemic is making us rethink our humanity, none is more important, or urgent, than the overall protection of children.”
In a new op-ed, Angelina Jolie lays out why children are especially vulnerable right now.
Jolie writes about the dangers of isolation for many children around the world. She has been involved in many humanitarian causes over the years and brings her keen insight to the problem, writing, “Isolating a victim from family and friends is a well-known tactic of control by abusers, meaning that the social distancing that is necessary to stop COVID-19 is one that will inadvertently fuel a direct rise in trauma and suffering for vulnerable children.”
She writes that many children are protected by a support network and that the pandemic has, “come at a time when children are deprived of the very support networks that help them cope: from their trusted friends and teachers to after-school sports activities and visits to a beloved relative’s house that provide an escape from their abusive environment.”
Jolie argues that safe spaces like schools act as support networks for children who experience abuse.
Jolie explains that schools, “are a lifeline of opportunity as well as a shield, offering protection.”
“It’s not just that children have lost support networks,” Jolie says. “Lockdown also means fewer adult eyes on their situation. In child abuse cases, Child Protective Services are most often called by third parties such as teachers, guidance counselors, after school program coordinators and coaches.”
Jolie knows, firsthand the important role schools play for children. She funds 10 schools in Cambodia, another 2 schools for girls in Afghanistan, and several schools in Africa, that serve children in Kenya and Nambia.
Jolie states, ‘The profound, lasting health impacts of trauma on children are poorly understood and often minimized.’
“What are we doing now to step up to protect vulnerable children from suffering harm during the shutdown that will affect them for the rest of their lives?” she asks.
“We were underprepared for this moment because we have yet to take the protection of children seriously enough as a society. The profound, lasting health impacts of trauma on children are poorly understood and often minimized.”
In the piece, Jolie outlines what we can do right now to protect children.
In addition to Jolie’s astute evaluation of our current situation, she does outline things we can do to help. She suggests that we call family and friends “particularly where we might have concerns that someone is vulnerable.”
She also points to efforts being made in her home state of California where the state’s Surgeon General Dr. Nadine Burke Harris is leading a drive for routine screenings of children for Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) like domestic abuse.
She also advocates for people to support local domestic violence shelters.
She writes, “The Global Partnership to End Violence Against Children offers a number of resources to help protect kids during the pandemic, including guides to keeping them safe online and talking to children about difficult issues.”
Jolie closes the piece by offering more resources and suggests it will take ‘the whole of our country’ to solve the problem.
Jolie also advises, “The Child Helpline Network can direct parents or anyone with concerns to a number to call for advice and information. And there are sites that can help you if you have concerns about your own relationship.“
“It is often said that it takes a village to raise a child. It will take an effort by the whole of our country to give children the protection and care they deserve,” she concludes.
Jolie has personally done her part to help children during the coronavirus crisis. She donated $1 million to No Kid Hungry last month. The organization delivers meals to children who relied on school lunches.
“As of this week, over a billion children are out of school worldwide because of closures linked to coronavirus,” Jolie said in a statement about the donation. “Many children depend on the care and nutrition they receive during school hours, including nearly 22 million children in America who rely on food support. No Kid Hungry is making resolute efforts to reach as many of those children as possible.”
Jolie has also sent additional funding to her schools and partnered with UNESCO.
She sent additional funding to the schools she fosters and partnered with UNESCO to establish a Global Education Coalition to help children gain access to distance learning while schools are closed.
We think Angelina Jolie’s assessment of the situation children are facing is sound. We encourage you to give to the charities she’s endorsed and take the steps she outlines in her powerful op-ed to help children around the world who are in need.