Child abuse actually decreased during COVID

Pediatrics researcher Robert Sege said he was surprised to see the findings and say that even those who say they are very stressed by the pandemic are close to children. Credits: Shutterstock

In response to the dire health situation of the pandemic, researchers have found some good news about family well-being. Dr. Robert Sege, a professor of medicine and pediatrics at Tufts University School of Medicine and director of the Tufts Medical Center’s Community Health Center, and his TMC colleague Allison Stevens have three different statistics on child abuse. I found an emergency department visit, which is an indicator. Hospitalizations for abusive head injuries, and reports to child welfare offices, fell sharply in the spring of 2020, when the world moved to a blockade. This has led to some experts who feared increased child abuse when families tried to find their way under closed schools, work turmoil, and the compulsion of countless other pandemic stressors. I was surprised. Sege, whose research focuses on the prevention of child abuse, tackled the paradox in a recent interview.

Tough Tsunau: You and Allison Stevens recently wrote JAMA Pediatrics Regarding the “lack of child abuse epidemic,” the latest data argue that it goes against the conventional wisdom that child abuse and neglect increase during a pandemic. How do you explain this paradox that interest rates are falling despite rising risk?

Robert Sege: I think that’s good news in many ways. We know that many people have had more time due to work interruptions and remote work. They weren’t in a hurry. Their children weren’t in a hurry. During that time, state, local, federal and neighboring countries intervened. While the unemployment rate soared, there was an increase in unemployment protection, stimulus checks, direct support for food and utilities services, and unemployment insurance.

What people don’t know about children abuse It’s almost Children Those who are being abused are being abused by their parents and caretakers, not by strangers. Second, most parents really love their children. When child abuse occurs, it is not because parents do not love their children. That’s because they reached the end of their rope.Because they are already down Financial distress Or relationship stress, or they have mental health challenges or drug problems. Second, the kids do things like kids. Babies cry a lot, toddlers do the opposite, and teenagers try to grow. They are unable to cope with these normal problems and parenting difficulties when parents’ own problems and stress are already pushing them to the limit.

We think they never reached that end because the family was well supported during the pandemic.

How do you connect the points between families who are supported to meet their daily needs and reduce child abuse at home?

We have long known that helping families (food benefits, utility bills, all of them) reduces child abuse. In particular, paid parental leave, which was just taken in Massachusetts in 2021, reduces abusive head injuries to babies. All of this shows that these external social factors are important. They will not abuse their children if you give the family enough not to exceed their limits. This is really important.

Don’t you think fewer people will notice and report abuse while the school is closed?

First, emergency department visits for child abuse and neglect have declined sharply. Second, a group at Yale University found that hospitalizations for abusive head injuries, a serious consequence of child abuse, were also dramatically reduced. Here are two medical indicators.

The third is the number of reports of physical abuse of children. These occur when someone calls the state welfare office. In Massachusetts, it’s a child and family division. Child Being abused. These reports were reduced by up to 70%.Probably because some experts said the report was rejected because the children were not attending school or kindergarten at the time. Child abuse It proceeds undetected in the usual way. So we saw it. In 2019, before the pandemic, educators produced about 20% of all abuse reports, so the loss of educator reports alone cannot explain the 70% reduction.

We are also working with the American Academy of Pediatrics and the CDC to survey 9,000 US parents in 2020 and 2021 and to investigate parents about their pandemic experience. What surprised you?

They tell us that they generally feel closer to their children, and even closer to their children, even when they are helping them in distance education. And what’s interesting is that even those who say they’re very stressed about the pandemic say they’re close to a child.

We know that the human brain can respond to what is called post-traumatic growth. When people suffer from mental trauma and recover, one of the hallmarks of recovery is that they feel familiar with those who have experienced the trauma. Therefore, if parents and children spend a very difficult and stressful time together, I think that many people will come closer.

An important lesson here is that while we experts were worried about increased abuse, families are resilient and specific support for families protects children. It means that I found.

Pandemic blockade increases the risk of child abuse

For more information:
Robert Sege et al., Physical abuse of children did not increase during the pandemic, JAMA Pediatrics (2021). DOI: 10.1001 / jamapediatrics.2021.5476

Provided by
Tufts University

Quote: Child abuse actually decreased during COVID (February 15, 2022). Obtained February 15, 2022 from https: //

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