A terrible cost of COVID-19: More child abuse
COVID-19 restrictions are a public health measure, but have not been without a serious public health cost: vastly increased child abuse. There are several factors at play:
-Children out of school: For some children, school is their only refuge from an abusive or dangerous environment, and in some cases, school is the only place they feel valued. For some children, school is the only way of getting at least two meals per day.
-Parents out of work: Financial stressors created by job loss due to companies being shut down have disproportionately affected the working poor of our country. Parents threatened with losing all they have, are more likely to become emotionally unstable.
-Nothing to do: Families who used to have schedules and time apart are now shut up together, sometimes in small spaces. This inevitably leads to hot tempers, and abusive parents may become more abusive.
-The facts: Hospitals are seeing a serious increase in child abuse injuries, including fatal injuries. But most cases are unreported, and who is watching? All the mandated reporters are working from home: teachers, social workers, therapists. Child abuse, loss of jobs, homelessness: this all affects the young, working poor. And this demographic (and their kids) are not the COVID-19 deaths--those dying are old or have chronic illnesses.
-My observation: Most of my working poor clients would much rather be sick for a week and not lose their livelihood. Many abused children desperately miss school, where they are cared for and valued. The people least likely to get seriously ill from COVID-19 are bearing an overwhelming proportion of the ill effects of economic and academic shutdown.
-Two sample news stories (click on link)