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Child Maltreatment during the Pandemic

Written by: Tanya Singh

Date: October 2020

Even before the pandemic, there was a large number of child maltreatment and abuse in the world. With the introduction of the COVID-19 pandemic, has this number of children affected by such abuse changed?

The COVID-19 pandemic has induced a large amount of stress on parents, with unemployment rising at surprisingly high rates and children being home with distance learning. With all this extra stress being put onto parents, this can lead to the mistreatment of children.

However, despite this information, child abuse has surprisingly dropped by an alarming rate, and while this may sound good, it’s not. According to an NBC News data analysis from 43 states in the US, reports of neglect and abuse in April 2020 dropped by over 40 percent from the data of April 2019. This is not because child abuse has just dramatically dropped—it is because the children are out of view of teachers and other school officials, as they are the ones who report the majority of child abuse. Most of the time, if children are abused, it is not the parents or the child reporting but instead the children’s teachers. With distanced learning occurring, children are not interacting with their teachers in the same way they used to, so they might not see the same signs to be able to make those reports.

With these changes and the information that were given, there is no real way to determine if there has been a surge in child abuse. Just like many other things, the way to be able to truly find out if there has been a surge is to bring teachers back, which is something that will also be putting our children at risk.

The real question is, what can we do to protect these children? While there is not too much you can do, reach out to your peers. Child abuse can be happening even to the happiest of children, so try to reach out to anyone you know. Keep an eye out for signs of abuse, and be a system of support, not just for the people you think might be facing abuse but for everyone. The only way we can get through this tough time is if we are there for each other.