Jakarta (ANTARA) - The government underscored the state's presence to protect children, including those affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, through the issuance of Government Regulation (PP) No. 78 of 2021.

Protection of children during the COVID-19 pandemic is not only realized through safeguarding their health but also through efforts to create and maintain a conducive environment for their growth and development.

"This COVID-19 pandemic is classified as a disaster situation that affects the lives of children. Through PP No. 78 of 2021, the president gives directions for all parties to ensure that there are additional steps for the government to take in protecting children, especially from situations and conditions that threaten their growth and development,” Communication and Informatics Minister Johnny G. Plate stated here on Monday.

A child, in this regulation, is defined as a person under the age of 18, including those who are still in the womb. The PP on Special Protection for Children was signed by President Jokowi on August 10, 2021, and issued based on empirical sociological needs and juridical needs.

From the empirical sociological perspective, certain situations and conditions endanger children's lives, including those in emergencies, children in conflict with the law, children exploited both sexually and economically, victims of trafficking, and other special conditions.

Meanwhile, emergency situations where children need special protection, for instance, according to Article 1, paragraph 2 of PP 78 of 2021 wherein children need a security guarantee against threats that endanger their growth and development.

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Children in need of special protection fall into at least 20 categories, including child victims of sexual exploitation, terrorist networks, physical violence, trafficking, and disasters, including non-natural disasters, such as the COVID-19 pandemic.

The form of special protection for children provided is rapid treatment, including medication and rehabilitation, psychosocial assistance, social aid for children from underprivileged families, and protection and assistance in every judicial process.

From a juridical perspective, this regulation is a mandate from Law Number 35 of 2014 concerning Child Protection, which mandates further regulation on special protection for children through the establishment of a government regulation.

Minister Plate remarked that the issuance of this regulation was an affirmative form of the state's commitment to serving special protection needs of children, considering that this protection issue cannot be solved separately.

Issuance of the regulation also clarifies the duties and authorities of the central and regional governments and institutions in ensuring the comprehensive protection of children.

Of course, the minister noted that the wider community can also participate in offering protection to children.

"These children are the responsibility of the state. In essence, we must work together to prevent children from becoming victims in emergencies, as they are our future," Plate affirmed.

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Translator: Alviansyah P, Raka Adji
Editor: Suharto
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