Behind the theme of HAN 2021: “Children are Protected, Indonesia Develops,” but Are They Really Protected?

Covid-19 cases in Indonesia are increasing. The impact affected the elderly and adults, but we must also accept that children can be the victims of this deadly virus. Since the first case was found in Indonesia, from March 2, 2020, to July 21, 2021, it is known that at least 2,983,830 people were confirmed positive, with 12.8% of the victims being minors. For the death case alone, at least 77,583 people were declared dead, with 1% of the victims being minors.  (1) Who would have thought this seemingly small number makes Indonesia the country with the highest child mortality cases in the world due to Covid-19. (2) Thus, what is the actual condition of children in Indonesia today? Are their rights fully fulfilled? To commemorate National Children’s Day (HAN), which falls on July 23, let’s look back together at the government’s performance in protecting the rights of Indonesian children.


The Indonesian Government in Handling Covid-19

The Covid-19 pandemic has been going on for over a year. However, not much progress has been made by the government. Starting from regulations that are constantly changing, new terms are popping up, to the social assistance fund that is continually corrupted. (3) The government said, “the situation is under control” (4), but the policy that has been in volumes has not brought the Covid-19 pandemic to an end. Is it true that the Indonesian government has done its best to reduce the infection rate of Covid-19 cases, especially to children? Here are some actions claimed by the government as an effort to protect children during the Covid-19 pandemic:

  1. PATBM Movement
    Community-Based Integrated Child Protection (PATBM) is a movement of a network or group of citizens at the community level that works in a coordinated manner. PATBM itself was formed to protect children from violence, including during the current Covid-19 pandemic. The Ministry of PPPA seeks to maximize the role of the community through the PATBM movement as one of the community movements to detect early threats or cases of violations of the fulfillment of rights and protection of children. With the PATBM network, it is hoped that it will make it easier for the community to follow up on Covid-19 cases, especially for children in their environment. (5)
  2. Joint Decree: Kemen PPPA along with the Ministry of Health and BNPB Regarding the Family Health Protocol.
    The Ministry of Women Empowerment and Child Protection (Kemen PPPA), along with the Ministry of Health and the National Disaster Management Agency (BNPB), released the Family Health Protocol to guide how to implement the principles of preventing and controlling the contagious of Covid-19 in the family. This protocol includes four things: health protocols in the family in general, health protocols when the family member is infected, family health protocols when doing activities outside the home, and health protocols in the surrounding environment when residents are infected. (6)
  3. Vaccination of children aged 12-18 years.
    The infection of the Covid-19 virus, which targets not only the elderly and adults but also children, has made the government quite concerned about protecting Indonesian children. One of the efforts made is by starting vaccination for pregnant women, breastfeeding mothers, and children aged 12-18 years. The parent should get reminded to ensure that the child has no complaints and no history of comorbidities before carrying out the vaccination.
  4. Child Protection Telephone Service (TePSA).
    The Directorate of Child Social Rehabilitation of the Indonesian Ministry of Social Affairs has carried out socialization of the TePSA call center service 1500771. TePSA itself was created to provide information on support services for children and families of victims of Covid-19. TePSA also receives reports regarding what happens to children, such as violence, neglect, disability, and other child problems, including seeking protection, child care, psychosocial support for children and families, and reference for care. (7)


“Protected Children, Developed Indonesia,” but Are They Really Protected?

At the commemoration of National Children’s Day (HAN) 2021, the government carried the theme “Protected Children, Developed Indonesia” with the hashtag #AnakPedulidiMasaPandemi. In one of the official articles released by the Ministry of Women Empowerment and Child Protection (KemenPPPA), the theme and hashtag chosen this year are expected to motivate even though the pandemic does not dampen the commitment to continue implementing HAN virtually, without reducing its meaning. (8) However, before discussing further regarding the celebration, the big question is, how can the government conclude “Protected Children, Developed Indonesia,” when at the same time children in Indonesia experience so much violence, exploitation, injustice, even deaths due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Based on the many facts regarding children’s rights that have not been realized, this confirms that the phrase “Protected Children, Developed Indonesia” is inaccurate. Let’s discuss some facts about the condition of Indonesia children today:

  1. Child Mortality Continues to Rise.
    Amid various claims and efforts made by the government, the facts show that the number of child deaths due to the Covid-19 pandemic continues to increase. It is known that 1 in 8 positive confirmed cases is a child with an age range of 0-18 years. Not only that, based on DKI Jakarta’s Covid-19 monitoring as of June 17, 2021, in just one day, there were at least 661 confirmed positive children with 144 cases experienced by toddlers (0-4 years).  (9) a regrettable event, not only for parents, but anyone should feel upset to see the conditions that occurred. Because this is not just a number, the increasing number of child deaths due to the Covid-19 pandemic shows that the government has failed to protect children’s rights which are considered crucial, namely the right to life and the right to health referring to Law Number (No). 23 of 2002 concerning Child Protection (10).
  2. The majority of Indonesian children lose their dreams.
    Based on the results of the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) survey, the result noted that at least 1% or as many as 938 children aged 7-18 years were forced to drop out of school due to the Covid-19 pandemic. (11) The closing of schools and the implementation of remote learning make students from marginalized groups vulnerable to being married off, forced to work, or simply having difficulty getting access to learning. They lose the right to complete education and a meaningful learning process. Retno Listyarti, Commissioner of the Indonesian Child Protection Commission (KPAI), said there are at least five reasons children drop out of school: marriage, work, arrears in tuition fees, addiction to online games, and death. (12).
  3. Undeniable Violence Against Children.
    Violence against children and women during the Covid-19 pandemic has increased by 15%. Based on the PPA SIMFONI data, from January 1 to June 19, 2020, there were at least 3,087 cases of violence against children, including 852 physical violence, 768 psychological violence, and 1,848 cases of sexual violence. (13) It is unfortunate, considering that percentage had decreased before the pandemic. Surprisingly, the perpetrators of violence often come from the neighborhood. This is possible due to parents experiencing pressure during the pandemic and taking it out on their children. Therefore, the role of all parties is needed to minimize violence that occurs to children.


The conditions above are only 3 of the many violations of children’s rights during the Covid-19 pandemic. Again, in an emergency like this, the state should be able to guarantee the welfare of each of its citizens, including the protection of children’s rights, which are human rights. Because children are a mandate and gift from God Almighty, who has inherent dignity and worth as a whole human being. Instead of echoing a theme that seems to force children’s condition to be okay when it is not, the government should take real action to ensure the fulfillment of children’s rights to live, grow, develop, and participate optimally. As regulated in the Convention on the Rights of the Child, (14) include:

  1. Article 6, “All children have the right to life. The government needs to ensure that children can survive and grow up healthily.”
  2. Article 28, “Every child has the right to get a quality education. Primary education needs to be free, secondary education accessible, and children encouraged to pursue education to the highest level possible.”
  3. Article 19, “Every child has the right to receive proper care, to be protected from violence, abuse and neglect.”

What can we do?

National Children’s Day (HAN) should not only be used as a commemoration instead the right momentum for the government, parents, or other levels of society to reflect together on whether so far they have tried to provide a safe, comfortable and inclusive space for children. In times of emergency like this, children should be the main priority to be protected, not the other way around. In addition to continuing to educate themselves regarding children’s rights, it is time for the government as the most significant control holder to provide real solutions, especially how children’s rights can be protected amid the Covid-19 pandemic, in accordance with Article 4 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child which reads, “The government is responsible for responsibility to ensure that all the rights enshrined in the Convention are protected and fulfilled for each child.”

Writer : Illiyin Keikori
Editor : Rheka Rizqiah Ramadhani
Translator : Hasna Fatina


  2. Prof. Dr. dr Aman Bhakti Pulungan, ketua Ikatan Dokter Anak Indonesia (IDAI) mengatakan dalam siaran live konferensi pers
  9. Mengacu pada siaran live: dan
  10. Undang-Undang No.23 tahun 2002


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very cool insight!

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