More calls to children’s hotline, as school closures stretch into May
A hotline which children can ring if they are worried or victims of physical and sexual abuse has reported a sharp rise in calls since the Netherlands brought in tough measures on social distancing and closed schools because of coronavirus, news website Nu.nl said on Wednesday.
‘Tensions are rising at home and people are being confined together in small spaces,’ Suzanne Pappot of the Kindertelefoon organisation said. ‘Children are no longer going to school or sports clubs and their parents are more at home as well because of coronavirus.’.
In particular, children who live in ‘complicated home situations’ are finding things tough, she said.
The government on Tuesday said schools would now remain closed until after the May holidays, which end on either May 3 or May 10, depending on the local authority.
The Kindertelefoon’s 600 volunteers are now dealing with some 1,500 calls a day, compared with 1,000 a day before coronavirus, Nu.nl reported.
However, not all the questions are about issues of personal safety, Pappot said. ‘Some want to know if their school’s end of year musical will go ahead or if they can still go to camp,’ Pappot said. ‘All these regular things in childrens’ lives are falling away.’
Schools and teachers are also concerned about the impact of school closures on vulnerable children.
‘These are difficult times for pupils and for teachers and parents who have to organise education at a distance,’ Paul Rosenmöller chairman of the secondary schools council VO Raad, told broadcaster NOS.
Nevertheless, more has to be done to make sure children who are at risk of neglect or abuse are being monitored, he said. And if necessary, he said, they should still be taught at school.
A survey of 1,028 school heads earlier this week shows that 75% of primary school chiefs are worried about the impact on vulnerable children without motivated parents to help them.
Some 20% of children are at risk and local authorities are being urged to play a greater role in making sure they are both safe and still learning.
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