Positive parenting encouraged as child abuse rates increase during lockdown
Helpful resource for vulnerable families.
COVID-19 is changing family life. But times of hardship can also allow for creative opportunity: to build stronger relationships with children and adolescents. (iStock)

With 1.37 billion children now out of school – nearly 80% of all enrolled children in the world – parents and carers across the globe are rapidly coming to terms with the challenges of parenting in the time of Covid-19. 

And sadly, the uncertainty, stress and economic hardship have had severe implications for parents worldwide. 

According to one UCT scholar, evidence shows that when health emergencies necessitate extended school closures,  violence and vulnerability increase for children. 

'Crisis increases parenting stress'

"Rates of reported child abuse rise during school closures... For many, the economic impact of the crisis increases parenting stress, abuse, and violence against children," says UCT's Department of Psychology's Professor Catherine Ward. 

In his address to the nation last week, Police Minister Bheki Cele acknowledged that domestic and gender-based violence could increase during this period. 

It's one reason why the government banned alcohol sales during the shutdown and strengthened the capacity of the courts and the Family Violence, Child Protection, and Sexual Offences Units to deal with matters relating to domestic violence.

A free parenting resource

But times of hardship can also allow for creative opportunity: to build stronger relationships with children and adolescents by empowering parents with skills to cope while under pressure. 

It is for this reason that several organisations, including the World Health Organization (WHO), the University of Cape Town (UCT) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNICEF) have created a free parenting resource for strengthening parent-child relationships during crisis. 

The set of six one-page tips for parents is based on parenting programmes for strengthening parent-child relationships and promoting child well-being. 

Follow this link to access the free resource: Parenting in the time of COVID-19 

Help at your fingertips

Another helpful resource for vulnerable families is rAInbow

Developed by AI for Good, in partnership with the Soul City Institute for Social Justice and Sage Foundation, rAInbow is a chatbot that uses artificial intelligence (AI) to chat with users and provide accurate information on domestic violence. 

Co-built with survivors, help users validate their experiences and navigate the next steps.

The tool is especially aimed at victims who have been shamed into silence who may find comfort in opening up without the fear of being judged. 

rAInbow can be accessed 24/7 via Facebook Messenger – anonymously and safely. 

To chat to rAInbow, all you need is a device connected to the internet: 

1. Type 'chat2bo' or 'Hi Rainbow' on Facebook Messenger, or follow this link, to start a new conversation

2. You can also visit Hirainbow.org for more information, and click 'Start talking' to chat

3. Explore the interactive sections including stories, quizzes, resources and definitions to learn about abuse, what to do in such a situation, and how to get help.  

Find more information on the rAInbow's COVID-19 support page

Report abuse to the government's hotline: 0800 150 150. 

Compiled for Parent24 by Anneline Hlangani.

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