Higher stress levels due to COVID-19 could lead to increased risk of child abuse
Greenville, SC—April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month, and in these uncertain times our children need support. Prisma Health Children’s Hospitals join with the American Academy of Pediatrics to acknowledge that financial, emotional and other stressors that parents are facing today due to COVID-19 and in conjunction with spending long periods of time isolated at home may lead to increased risk of children being abused.
As we all adjust to the new reality of school cancellations for the remainder of the year, work and business closings, and forced time indoors, we know stress levels are on the rise. For families that may already be under strain due to complex issues such as food or housing instability, social distancing and quarantines can exacerbate frustration and isolation, making some especially vulnerable. In previous times of stress and crisis, we have seen rates of child abuse rise. Now more than ever, we must do what we can to help families, friends and neighbors stay safe and healthy during this uneasy time.
“April is a time to celebrate the important role that communities play in protecting children and strengthening families," said Susan Lamb, MD, with Prisma Health Children's Hospital–Midlands and Palmetto Health-USC Child Abuse Pediatrics. "Everyone's participation is critical, particularly this year as children are at increased risk of abuse and neglect during the COVID-19 pandemic. Focusing on ways to strengthen and support families is one the best things we can do to prevent child abuse and neglect."
Nancy Henderson, MD, a child abuse pediatrician with Prisma Health Children’s Hospital–Upstate, added, “In this time of social distancing, it is even more important for all of us to use available resources to check in on vulnerable populations and provide those important connections.”
During this time and throughout the year, Prisma Health Children’s Hospitals encourage all individuals and organizations to play a role in making South Carolina a better place for children and families. By ensuring that parents have the knowledge, skills, and resources they need to care for their children, we can help prevent child abuse and neglect by creating strong and thriving children, youth, and families in our communities.
Research shows that protective factors are present in healthy families. Protective factors are conditions or attributes of individuals, families, communities, or the larger society that mitigate risk and promote healthy development and well-being. Promoting the following protective factors is one of the most effective ways to reduce the risk of child abuse and neglect:
- Parental resilience.
- Social connections.
- Concrete supports for parents.
- Social and emotional competence of children.
Children’s Trust of South Carolina, an affiliate for Prevent Child Abuse America and the Children's Bureau, within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, in collaboration over 30 national prevention partners, have developed several resources for community members to learn more about the warning signs on child abuse and neglect and how to create strong and thriving children, youth, and families in our communities, available here.
For more information about child abuse prevention programs and activities throughout the year in the Midlands, contact Mandy Felder, 803-434-4385, Mandy.Felder@PrismaHealth.org, and in the Upstate contact Brianna Kimbrell, Brianna.Kimbrell@PrismaHealth.org, 864-455-5686.