Commissioner for Child Protection for masks: "Do not victimize children"

Commissioner Michailidou spoke on masks for children

2ad654cd5b117997bdb7386154502e61 masks for children

The Commissioner for the Protection of the Rights of the Child issued an announcement regarding the new measures, the mandatory use of a face mask and the presentation of a negative test diagnosis by primary school students, for attendance at school due to the pandemic. 

Such is the announcement

The new measures announced by the Minister of Health dated 24/11/2021 to deal with the pandemic, with any subsequent modifications that followed: mandatory use of a face mask, presentation of a negative diagnosis test for primary school students, for attendance at school, caused concern and provoked the reaction of a portion of parents.

As Commissioner for the Protection of the Rights of the Child, I monitor any measures taken to address the pandemic of children and intervene accordingly where I consider that the rights of the child are being violated by Government decisions or policies.

The multidimensional importance of school, which in addition to providing knowledge, offers an environment in which children acquire the supplies and skills needed for their comprehensive development (social, physical, mental, mental, moral) led all countries of Europe, and this was evident in the meetings of the European Network of Commissioners for the Child I participated in, to set as their main goal: to keep schools open and safe. Let us consider the reality: what is before us, the abstention from the school community, the closure of schools has been a factor of lost experiences, isolation, insecurity and instability, elements that, as scientists explain to us, have had significant psychosocial effects on children.

Achieving the goal, schools open and safe imposed and imposes the need to take appropriate measures, adapted to the epidemiological data of each time period. When making decisions concerning children, it is imperative that all existing risks, greater or lesser, be weighed and taken into account, and that appropriate measures be taken accordingly to safeguard the best interests of the child and to fully protect his or her rights.

Measures that of course should not be applied horizontally but in any case to seek and / or consider alternative ways of protection on a case by case basis and which will take into account the particularities of each child and / or group of children e.g. children with disabilities) in order to ensure, first and foremost, the Principle of Child Interest and the Principle of Non-Discrimination.

In any case, however, the decision on any new measure taken may not victimize the children themselves and in this case, children whose parents did not consent or will not consent to the implementation of the measures. Pedagogical or other ways need to be sought from the school community in order to achieve the desired result.

We must trust our children. Children are aware of their political, social, health status and their protection or removal from the social fabric works to the detriment of the comprehensive development of their personality and ultimately the safeguarding of their interests. We can trust them, we can trust their adaptability but also their contribution to the universal effort made in the last two years to reduce the pandemic. The children have already proved a lot: they follow the health protocols consistently, maintain social distance and apply the rules of personal hygiene. Any concerns from the adult community about the mask (proper use, impact on the learning process, difficulties due to prolonged use) and / or performing a diagnostic test to detect coronavirus are understandable. However, with the close cooperation of the whole school community (parents, teachers, children) I am sure that it can be achieved. The encouragement and implementation of group, creative, child-friendly activities contribute to the cultivation of a culture of understanding and respect for the value of Public Health, which is essential for the operation of schools. In such a climate, I invite the schools to create imaginative ways of synergy with the children so that they can work collectively in the same direction.

For my part and in the context of my duties, I will closely monitor the implementation and impact of the measures in question and will intervene where and when I deem it necessary.