Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been primarily talk about the consequences it has on people’s physical health, while its impact on mental health, increased rate of domestic violence and children with developmental disabilities has been less discussed.

The debate “Invisible consequences of COVID-19” was held on November 26 within the project “Mitrovica Social Club” which is implemented by the NGO Aktiv with the support of the Kosovo Foundation for Open Society (KFOS). Biljana Jaredić, doc. dr. at the Department of Psychology, Faculty of Philosophy in Kosovska Mitrovica, Tijana Simić LaValley, program director of the NGO “Žensko pravo” and Ivana Rakić, president of the association of parents of children with disabilities “Support me” took part in this debate.

“Given that almost everything is unknown regarding the corona virus and that we are in this situation for the first time, without enough information, a person develops his/her survival strategies. When some strategies fail, a person experiences some kind of helplessness, which, if it lasts, can lead to depression… There are no global general recommendations, you need to look at what someone likes. The essence is to design our own routine, our rules and the way it feels good to us”, said Jaredić.

Tijana Simić LaValley, on behalf of the NGO “Žensko pravo” from North Mitrovica, points out that during the pandemic, the number of domestic violence in the world increased by 30 percent, while in our country the percentage is 17 percent. According to her, this difference speaks in favor of the fact that women in this area still do not report violence to a sufficient extent.

LaValley reminds that in order to protect, the NGO “Žensko pravo” in cooperation with the police launched an initiative at the end of March to establish a protocol for the care of victims of domestic violence in the Safe House in Novo Brdo. Also in April, a media campaign was launched aimed at providing information on the services offered by the organization, as well as police phone numbers, to encourage women victims to report violence.

“The police and the prosecution, then the institutional service providers, as well as the non-governmental sector, functioned regularly during the pandemic and the violence was treated equally. Immediately after the introduction of the measures, the Kosovo government gave movement permits to all service providers from the non-governmental sector, and victims of violence could ask for help at any time of the day, regardless of the measures introduced,” claims Simić LaValley.

Children who have developmental difficulties are certainly a group that is additionally endangered, and thus the responsibility of parents is even greater. All services that were available to these children until now, have now been shut down, points out Ivana Rakić, president of the Association of Parents of Children with Developmental Disabilities “Support Me” from North Mitrovica.

“A child is used to having education with a psychologist, a speech therapist, a special educator at a certain time. It is difficult to explain to a child with developmental difficulties why he/she cannot go to hang out or has to wear a mask. Psychologists suggested to us online what to do with children “, says Rakić and notes that an additional problem is the fact that certain children have prescribed pharmacological therapy which includes drugs imported from abroad, so it was certainly harder to obtain them during the pandemic.

Another problem that children with developmental difficulties face is the lack of inclusive distance education. On the other hand, no adequate method has been found for the education of gifted children, points out Biljana Milošević Jaredić.

“When we talk about the Serbian system, then we know that regular classes go through the “RTS planeta”. Certain lectures are also posted on the Internet through the Google classroom. However, the problem is special schools that do not have their own channel on television and do not have their own Google classroom, and all that education goes through informal channels and through Viber and other applications. The Ministry of Education has not made a special program, because each of these children requires individual work, so that children who work according to an individual educational plan – IEP 1 and 2, but also according to IEP 3, i.e. according to an educational plan for gifted children”.


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