Child Safety During Lockdown

Isolation, boredom and family feuds are taking a toll on all of us. But even worse than our day-to-day irritations? The fact that COVID lockdowns mean children dealing with abuse in their households are less likely to find help from adults.

Lockdowns Bad for Children in Abusive Homes

According to the American Society for the Positive Care of Children, in 2017:

  • 74.9% of abused children suffered neglect
  • 18.3 % of victims suffered physical abuse
  • 8.6% of victims suffered sexual abuse
  • 7.1% of victims suffered psychological abuse
  • Nearly 1,720 children died from abuse and neglect

Mandated reporters would usually notice signs of abuse in children more often. But they have not been able to see the kids they work with in person for nearly two months.

Mandated reporters usually include health care workers, social workers, teachers, police, mental health professionals and more. However, you don’t have to be a mandated reporter to call in child abuse or neglect.

The Sentinel and Enterprise reports that “Reports of child abuse have plummeted, even as family stress factors like job insecurity, food insecurity and sickness have disproportionally increased in March and April — which, in a cruel irony, is Child Abuse Prevention Month.”

Look for Warning Signs of Abuse, Even Virtually

According to a PSA by the Massachusetts Office for Victim Assistance (MOVA), anyone who has contact with children, even just through video chat, should look for warning signs of abuse:

  • Physical look: signs of bruises, marks, injuries, hygiene, or attire
  • Outside factors: signs of violence, drug and alcohol abuse, or family dysfunction
  • Behavior and affect: change in mood or presentation, distress, or outcries of abuse
  • Engagement: changes in participation, interaction, and communication
  • Supervision: access to a responsible adult and their level of involvement.

The PSA notes that “A report does not automatically trigger a child being removed from a home or a parent being in trouble. Few reports result in either of those outcomes. The most common outcome is supplying services and supports to families that need them.”

This is important to remember. Some people think that they could be making things worse if they anonymously report child abuse. This is not the case.

How to Report Child Abuse

Anyone is able to report child abuse; not just mandated reporters. Do you believe you see warning signs of abuse in a child? If so, you should contact your local child protective services or police.

See the Child Welfare Information Gateway for numbers, links and further details about how to report child abuse.