Access to health and education, violence prevention and response, and mental health concerns of children and adolescents during COVID-19 crisis

Panama City, July 29, 2020.- The COVID-19 humanitarian crisis in Latin America and the Caribbean has brought to light the profound inequalities occurring in our region, which have a greater impact on the most vulnerable people, including children and adolescents. Through the report “COVID-19 in Latin America and the Caribbean. Children’s rights are not quarantined”, Save the Children is committed to strengthening education in the response to Covid-19 because of its key role in protecting public health, keeping children safe, and promoting their psychological and emotional well-being, while promoting child participation and ensuring that the voices of children and adolescents are taken into account in all decisions that affect them and in all response and recovery measures.

We call on States, donors and other stakeholders to invest not only in responding to the pandemic, but also in improving and strengthening health, education, child protection and social protection services, while ensuring that essential services continue in the midst of the response.. This is the only way to guarantee the fulfillment of children’s rights in the midst of this exceptional situation.“commented Victoria Ward, Regional Director of Save the Children at the launch of the report, which makes the following recommendations to all actors involved in the response to and recovery from the humanitarian crisis caused by COVID-19:

  1. Put children at the center of the response and take into account the voices of children and adolescents in all response and recovery measures.
  2. Invest not only in responding to the pandemic, but also in improving and strengthening health, education, child protection and social protection services.
  3. Ensure that essential health, education and protection services continue in the midst of the response.
  4. Analyze those who are most at risk and vulnerable, to ensure that these services reach them.
  5. Ensuring livelihoods for families to avoid the increase in poverty and its attendant consequences
  6. Prioritize key issues such as mental health and violence prevention.

Childhood talks about COVID-19 impacts

The concerns, proposals and recommendations of children and adolescents from several countries in the region were gathered during the first weeks of the pandemic in an intergenerational dialogue promoted by Save the Children with representatives of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and the Committee on the Rights of the Child, as well as through interviews conducted in Guatemala with the children and adolescents’ organization Red Presión, as in the case of Joel, a male adolescent from Guatemala: “I feel that many dreams I had in mind were put on hold, but I am confident that this will all be over soon and we will be able to go on with our normal lives.”

“There is limited access to face masks and alcohol gel because of hoarding by people or because of rising prices, and this makes it inaccessible for all the basic things we have to use,” he said. Cristina*, a female adolescent from Chile who is part of the Latin American and Caribbean Network of Girls, Boys and Adolescents (REDNNyAS); while Rafael*, a male adolescent from Paraguay, from the Latin American and Caribbean Movement of Working Children and Adolescent Workers (MOLACNATS) reflected on access to timely information: “About the information that comes to us, we don’t understand the language that is used in giving the information. Very complex or technical words are used that we don’t understand”.

In terms of education, 159 million students in the region are affected by the closure of schools and universities, representing 95% of the school-aged population

Although 90% of governments in the region include digital platforms in their continuing education plans, unfortunately one third of the region’s population still does not have access to the Internet[2], which clearly limits their educational continuity.

“Regarding virtual education, there is a big gap between children in the rural area and children in the urban area, because children in the rural area are the ones who have little Internet connection to do their homework. Another gap is that of children with disabilities, could it be that there are special virtual classes for these children? The children may be affected in this school year with repercussions in the future, in the labor field,” he said. Amelia*, adolescent female from Colombia.

In relation to the protection of children and adolescents, several countries in the region have reported an increase in cases of domestic violence of between 50% and 70% during the weeks of confinement[3], as well as an increase in the number of complaints of gender-based violence. “With the confinement of children and adolescents we are more exposed to violence, especially punishment, especially girls who are forced to live with their aggressors.” commented Maria*, a female adolescent from Peru, referring to how children and especially girls are the most affected by cases of violence at the hands of caregivers and family members.

Save the Children also highlights the situation of migrant and displaced populations. Between March and May, at least 1,000 unaccompanied migrant children were returned from the United States to Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador[4]. This has generated a situation of great vulnerability for these returnee children given the difficulties of access to services and protection they have encountered due to their situation of return during COVID 19.

My concern is what benefits we migrant children would have if we get the virus, since we don’t have health insurance” Alicia*, female adolescent and Venezuelan migrant in Colombia.


Names of children and adolescents with the symbol * were changed for protection reasons.

The report “COVID-19 in Latin America and the Caribbean. Children’s rights are not quarantined” in Save the Children’s Resource Center:






Con información de nuestras iniciativas en América Latina.