One of the many adverse consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic with its lengthy lockdown phases has been the drastic reduction in the provision of child mental health, child welfare and child protection resources . Clinics, youth welfare offices and independent organizations often recorded a deceptive decrease in contacts that did not correspond to the real needs of the population. In addition, for the best part of a year, children and adolescents experienced major reductions in social contacts normally available through school, social, leisure, sports or artistic activities, all of which are a source of validation and structuring . The removal of these essential social outlets together with other members of the family trying to home school and work from home, combined with individuals with pre-existing conditions is a “perfect storm” for escalating tensions and conflicts within the home and increasing the risks of abuse .
Since the lockdown, child welfare risks are being reported much less frequently by those who are usually present in a child’s environment, such as teachers and caregivers. Youth welfare offices in Germany received 25% fewer hazard reports, and the German medical child protection  hotline registered a decrease in reports from practices and hospitals to 70% of the usual level [3, 17]. Worryingly, many schools reported that 20% of the children had virtually disappeared from the radar and were no longer available . At the same time, there were more calls being made to helplines for children and young people but often without direct consequences meaning no active intervention or follow-up .
Following the first lockdown a “rebound effect” that is, an overshooting of the demands to far more than the usual number of consultations was observed. Studies and statistics emerged suggesting that psychological distress, poverty, aggression and violence are likely to have increased in many families [6,7,8]. One can predict that these problems will continue to worsen as more lockdowns are being implemented. Emotional and behavioural problems that previously affected just under a fifth of all children and adolescents now occur in just under a third . Counselling centres, outpatient clinics and clinics report noticeable increases in anxiety disorders, depression, suicidality and eating disorders. School refusal is not systematically noticed at the moment, although there are several different causes in the context of the pandemic ranging from being afraid of an infection all the way to enjoying life without school. Therefore, it seems highly likely that the whole range of problems will emerge when everyday life gradually normalizes. If this is the case, society must be prepared for this phase.
These worrying statistics and trends need to trigger proactive action not merely increasing levels of concern.
What is clear, is that the situation across Europe for these children is extremely volatile and to stop this escalating further we need to act now and put strategic planning in place early.