A recent article from NBC News highlights a seriously underreported issue that the Beau Biden Foundation has been talking about since the onset of the current health crisis – “school closures keep children out of the view of the adults who make a fifth of all child abuse reports — teachers and school officials.”
The decline in reports does not point to a decrease in child abuse. Children may be at high risk for abuse as they shelter, particularly if the shelter in dangerous places — with an abusive or predatory caretaker. The closures of schools and other youth-programs combined with a high rate of unemployment “and other economic stresses linked to the outbreak have increased the risk of abuse and neglect.”
According to studies conducted after the 2008 recession, a sudden rise in unemployment – like we are seeing with COVID-19 – was linked to an increase in child abuse.
Teachers and school officials are obviously reporting less because of their substantially diminished interactions with children. Yet, the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline— a non-government agency — has seen an increase in calls. Reports to that hotline have grown “by 31 percent in March, 17 percent in April and 43 percent in May when compared to 2019,” according to NBC News. “We’re getting much more intensified calls, more abuse disclosure, and stories of sexual abuse and much higher anxiety calls from people who are suffering,” said Childhelp’s Chief Communications Officer, Daphne Young. Clearly the calls are coming from the children themselves.
Children need our help now, more than ever — they are asking for it. And as schools across the country navigate the best way for children to safely return to school, it is critical that child abuse prevention policies and procedures not get lost in the conversation.
Teachers, counselors, and administrators must have the proper training to help protect children from abuse – both in-person and through online communications. Every school and youth-serving organization has an obligation to protect the children in their care.
To help schools do just that, the Beau Biden Foundation is currently offering an accredited workshop for education and youth-serving professionals focused on recognizing and reporting abuse in virtual environments. Without this training, teachers can not protect children from abuse the same way they would be able to if schools were physically in-session. Don’t children deserve the same protections online as they would in-person?
Learn more about how you can help protect children and confront abuse at www.BeauBidenFoundation.org/Workshops.