How COVID-19 Is Impacting Child Abuse
According to the CDC, nearly one billion children experience some form of child abuse or family violence every single year. However, the COVID-19 pandemic is causing significant increases on this already massive statistic. In fact, one set of doctors in the United Kingdom noticed a significant increase in children receiving treatment for head injuries during the first month of quarantine mandates.
Continue scrolling to keep reading
Click the button below to start this article in quick view.
In a statement released in a joint report with the World Health Organization, Henrietta Fore, executive director of UNICEF, said, “Violence against children has always been pervasive, and now things could be getting much worse.”
Ford and other experts cite that lockdowns, school closures, and other government-mandated restrictions have left many young children at home with abusive parents for longer hours with less intervention from teachers and other mandatory reporters.
Furthermore, parents are more stressed than ever before, meaning that even parents who typically keep their anger under control are lashing out. This leaves kids in a highly vulnerable, and sometimes dangerous, position.
Why Are Parents So Stressed
There’s no denying that the COVID-19 pandemic has left parents stressed more than ever before. Not only are families stuck spending almost all of their time inside the house with barely any social interaction, but many parents are juggling work and parenting duties simultaneously while they work from home during the day. Furthermore, many families are struggling financially and receiving less assistance due to school closures and restrictions that leave food banks and other charities with less resources to share. All of this combines for a perfect storm for stress, anxiety, and depression.
According to research by Colorado State University, University of Denver, and Arizona State University scholars, these increases in stress, anxiety, and depression have a direct impact on child abuse. Without proper interventions and assistance, these statistics may continue to climb as the pandemic continues to impact home lives, schooling, and the economy.
Of course, the children themselves are causing added stress in some situations. Researchers at the University of Oxford and University of Manchester (UK) found that child and/or adolescent-to-parent violence is also increasing during the pandemic, which is making already difficult living situations more complicated. Since most APV occurs because of childhood trauma, many of these families are inducing mutual abuse, creating toxic living situations that will cause lasting negative impacts on children and their parents.
How Else Is The Pandemic Impacting Children?
Prolonged exposure to already abusive parents isn’t the only reason why child abuse is on the rise, though. Because many parents have been forced to work from home while their children engage in distance learning, children are spending more time on electronic devices than ever before with even less supervision than normal. In fact, the Journal of the American Medical Association says that increased screen time is leaving more children than ever before susceptible to online bullying and sexual exploitation.
These encounters can come in many forms, from interactive games like Roblox and Animal Crossing to social media platforms like Snapchat and TikTok. Even if you try to keep an eye on how your children use the internet, predators can find ways to get to them and influence them easily, especially if they are lonely.
The Lasting Effects Of Child Abuse
Regardless of when the abuse happens or how long it lasts, there’s no denying that child abuse has lasting effects on kids. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, child abuse can increase a child’s risk of developing many physical health problems such as diabetes, high blood pressure, heart conditions, and even lung disease. Furthermore, child abuse and childhood trauma can cause depression, PTSD, and even substance abuse problems.
These conditions, in turn, can leave children to struggle as adults and fall into many adverse situations that ultimately lead to problems with their personal and professional lives, not to mention the financial burden on society due to increased rates of arrest and homelessness.
Although we can’t change the pandemic or even remove all of the stress that we’re under as parents right now, we can arm ourselves with information and coping skills that can help us avoid the pitfalls of child abuse. Keep an eye on your actions and behaviors, and seek help if needed for yourself or your spouse.
Sources: Centers for Disease Control, BMJ Journal, World Health Organization, ScienceFinds.org, Journal of the American Medical Association, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
READ NEXT: Can Mom Get Full Custody If Dad Abuses The Children?
Families Start Tough Conversations About Holiday Plans With COVID Numbers Still Rising
About The Author