[United Kingdom] Coronavirus: Teach children about outbreak to stop bullying, schools told

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18 Feb 2020
Children and Young People Now

The outbreak of the coronavirus has shaken the whole world, including children. Early years education facilities are pushed to educate children about the virus in order to stop bullying and anxiety among their students.

Children's charities believe in the importance of telling the young that such an event "does not justify racial discrimination". According to Lauren Seager-Smith, chief executive of Kidscape, both children and adults are prone to use ignorant and unkind comments towards their peers as kind of a coping mechanism for they think they or their loved ones could be in danger. Some could even use the virus as an excuse for bullying and racism. Educators are urged to explain the facts about the virus and to have a zero tolerance policy on racism.

'Instances of bullying in school should be reported to teachers, who should be able to sit down with a parent and discuss how they are going to protect the child in the future. If you are worried that your child is being bullied, try to encourage them to talk to you or someone they trust. Reassure them that it is not their fault and things can get better.' - says Stevie Goulding, YoungMinds parents helpline team leader. Goulding also encourages carers and parents to talk to children about their anxieties related to the virus because they 'will take a lead on how to view things'.

'As we work to protect children from Covid-19, we must also protect them from stigma and abuse. Let's be kind, support each other and do our part to end violence,' a spokesman said.

Schools have been told not to close because of fears but pupils and staff should stay home if they feel unwell. Moreover, both staff and students should wash their hands before leaving home, on arrival at school, before eating and before leaving school to reduce the risk of spread of any germs. People suspected to have the virus must sit at least two metres from others until further medical treatment or advice but no other precautions are needed. If a case is confirmed, the school will be contacted by Public Health England (PHE) and any person who came into close contact with the diagnosed person should isolate themselves for two weeks, as well as people who travelled from the Hubei Province in the last 14 days.

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