Children are open to online exploitation, grooming, cyber-bulling and exposure to harmful internet content due to the amount of time they are spending online during the pandemic, according to the Children's Rights' Alliance.

The CRA has published its annual Report Card, which grades the Government on the commitments it has made in relation to children.

It has said that while the Government published the Online Safety and Media Regulation Bill in December 2020, it did not establish an independent complaints mechanism for children and young people if a tech platform failed to uphold their rights online.

Now that most children and young people are accessing their peers and education online, the alliance has reiterated the need for an Online Safety Commissioner.

It gave the Government a 'D-' grade for Child Safety Online.

Other promises made by the Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and Green Party Government in relation to children, and rated by the Children's Rights Alliance, include its handling of reduced timetables for children with additional needs.

It has said the suspension of education is one of the most serious human rights issues impacting children in education, and notes that certain children have been hit hard, especially those with additional needs, and Traveller children.

The lack of progress on issuing finalised guidelines regarding the use of a reduced timetable to schools resulted in a 'D' grade for the Government.

It also received a 'D' for early years education and the slow progress in establishing the new agency, Childcare Ireland.

The alliance recommends that inspections and oversight fall into the remit of Childcare Ireland to ensure quality and standards across the early childhood education and care sector.

The issue of family homelessness received a 'C-' grade due to the almost 40% reduction in family homelessness during 2020. 

This was mostly due to Covid-19 emergency measures including the evictions moratorium and the ban on rent increases.

The alliance noted new levels of need surfacing in families who were previously managing. 

It said there is a risk that problems go undetected and unsupported due to the lack of contact with outside services during lockdown. 

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, the charity's CEO said the Government has done well in a lot of areas, particularly with regard to Direct Provision, where HIQA was appointed as a national inspection body.

Tanya Ward also said that children as young as five are seeing their education suspended for part of the day because schools say they are struggling with the child's behaviour or that they do not have enough support staff to help them.

She said this has a detrimental effect on children and said that one child told the alliance she never got to make friends because she was sent home before play time every day.

This practice has become more prevalent in recent years, she said, and mostly effects children with disabilities and from the Traveller community.