According to a cbsnews.com article, “Child Abuse Fears Increase as Families Isolate during Coronavirus Pandemic,” written on April 6, 2020, Childhelp’s National Child Abuse Hotline had received 20% more calls and 439% more texts between March 1 and March 24, 2020, than the same time period in 2019. While calls to DCF to report child abuse are down dramatically, for example in Illinois calls were down 45% from the first to the third week in March. The drop in calls is largely due to the fact that schools are closed and a large part of the calls come from educators.
Families are stressed financially, and emotionally. Many have lost jobs, are trying to homeschool their children, figure out where the next meal is going to come from, and in some cases even struggling with drug or alcohol addiction. In the midst of all this, children are living with their abusers and they have no place to run to and no one to turn to.
So here are a few tips from preventchildabuse.org that you can use as a parent or even a friend of someone you think might be struggling.
Connect with family or friends – Social distancing doesn’t mean social isolating. We can still keep in touch with those we care about.
- Call, Skype, Facetime, or Zoom with family or friends
- Look at photo albums and discuss family heritage
- Create a family tree. You can use websites like Ancestry.com or Familysearch.org
- Write letters or create cards for family and friends
Connect with friends and neighbors – our social circles often serve as our greatest support group. So instead of playdates and dinner parties, try these instead.
- Go outside and say Hi to neighbors and passersby from a safe distance.
- Attend a virtual meal
- Attend a virtual concert, church service, exercise or yoga class
- Play on an online game together
Connect with your culture – with schools being closed and parents being home, now is a good time to learn about your cultural heritage.
- Read books about your culture – yourself and with your children
- Cook a meal together that reflects your cultural heritage
- Virtually visit more than 1,200 museums around the world via https://artsandculture.google.com/partner?hl=en
Connect with yourself – confronted with the daily barrage of information, uncertainty, and the realities of caring for family and loved ones, it is vital that you take time for yourself.
- Meditate or do yoga
- Read or Journal
- Take a bath
Now more than ever we need to be there for each other and for ourselves and especially the children who don’t have a voice. If you’re struggling reach out to someone, and don’t be ashamed to ask for help. These are unprecedented times and there are many others going through the same things you are going through. If you know someone who is struggling reach out and offer a supporting hand. But if you know or suspect a child is being abused or neglected report it. You may be the only chance that a child has and your call may save that child’s life.
For more tips and resources visit https://preventchildabuse.org/coronavirus-resources/