In March 2020 the world stopped. The COVID-19 pandemic brought about school, child care, church, restaurant, and barbershop closures. The President and the CDC asked that we “shelter in place” and practice social distancing. Social distancing meant that loved ones hospitalized due to COVID-19 could not have visitors and some patients diagnosed with COVID-19 died alone. Loved ones that passed away could only have a few family and friends at their home going services.
With schools closed, parents are tasked with home schooling their children, some for the first time. Parents are trying to balance working from home, home schooling and other responsibilities. Research shows that an increased stress level among parents is often a major predictor of physical abuse and neglect of children. Even households that were considered “stable” are being strained. Some parents do not have the option of working from home because they are “essential” workers. This places some children in vulnerable positions because they may be left at home alone or left in the care of someone that does not have their best interest at heart.
Domestic Violence is on the rise as well during COVID-19 due to sheltering in place. For those in already vulnerable positions, being quarantined with your perpetrator whether you are an adult or child is not a good thing.
COVID-19 has caused major economic devastation, disconnected many families from community resources and support systems, and created widespread panic. Across the country, reported child abuse cases are down. They are down because the places where children frequent such as schools, child care centers, after school programs, and faith organizations (safety nets) are temporarily closed. The vast majority of those who report suspected cases of child abuse and neglect are from outside the home, e.g., schools, child care centers.
Even though these places are closed, this places a greater burden on the community to be the watchful eyes for our children. The children in our communities need us more than ever. Those of us that work in schools, child care centers and hospitals are still mandated reporters. Children need someone else’s eyes on them other than family members. Social distancing doesn’t mean we have to be emotionally detached or isolated. We must still be in the business of caring.
During COVID-19, we need to protect children from online predators. Research has shown that 1 in 5 children are sexually solicited while on the internet. A lot of children are online engaging in virtual learning during the day, but after hours they may be at risk of being solicited by predators online. It’s important for parents to talk to their children about technology, the good, the bad and the ugly. Here are some tips from the FBI publication, “A Parent’s Guide to Internet Safety”:
So what can you do as a community member to protect children?
Since COVID-19, a lot of neighbors are meeting each other for the first time. If you don’t know your neighbors, get to know them. If you see parents outside, ask how the family is doing and about the children. If you have the phone number of a family in your neighborhood call or text and ask if they need something from the store. Be a good neighbor.
We know that this too shall pass. In the meantime, let’s make it our responsibility to look out for the children. They are depending on us to protect them. WE ARE STRONGER TOGETHER!!
If a child is in immediate danger, please call 911. To report abuse or neglect in the State of Georgia, please call the Georgia DFACS Call Center at 1-855-GACHILD (1-855-422-4453) 24 hours /7 days a week.
Prevent Child Abuse Georgia Helpline
If a parent or caregiver needs help or a referral, they should call 1-800-CHILDREN (1-800-244-5373) Monday-Friday 8 am-6 pm.
National Domestic Violence Hotline
Phone number: 1-800-799-7233
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
In his service,
Please feel free to contact Virginia for further information at [email protected]