• JoAnn Filipov

Every Christmas holds thousands of memories for the little ones. Unfortunately for some children, those memories are sometimes pushed away for triggering feelings of loneliness and/or the pain or sadness associated with their own trauma.

This season, feel the magic of Christmas and spread that joy.

Help more children smile this Christmas by helping provide gifts or donations to the "Secret Santa Program." In Georgia, each year this event is sponsored by the GA Division of Family & Children Services (@GAFCS) and @wsbradio @ClarkHoward.



They still need help! Since our home base in Georgia is here in Dekalb County, we are purchasing gifts for the children listed on Clark's Christmas Kids.

>>We have until December 9th!<<

With COVID-19 restrictions, there are no in-store Walmart events, so we are using the wishlists to purchase toys from donations sent to Operation ExHale to try and help brighten the children's holidays with Christmas light.

Consider donating by December 9th to help support the lives of children and youth fighting to cope with trauma this holiday season.



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“When families are forced to be isolated and their incomes potentially limited I think it’s going to create a lot more stress for families that are already volatile,” said Kim Garrett, CEO of Palomar, Oklahoma City’s family justice center.

If you know of an incident of child abuse or domestic violence, it needs to be reported. Call the police, call local law enforcement, call 911, or call The National Domestic Abuse Hotline at 1–800–799-SAFE (7233).

250,000 cases of child abuse or neglect may have gone unreported in U.S. COVID pandemic

Written By: Dr. Sanchari Sinha Dutta, PhD

A recent study published in the journal Child Abuse and Neglect has reported that the number of child maltreatment reports and child welfare interventions decreased significantly in New York City during the initial phase of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. A reduction in child protective service investigations has also been observed. Overall, the findings suggest that healthcare providers and teachers should be more attentive about detecting possible signs of child abuse during online child interaction sessions.

Study: Reporting of child maltreatment during the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic in New York City from March to May 2020.

To curb the spread of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the causative pathogen for COVID-19, several non-pharmacological control measures, such as mask-wearing, hand washing, social distancing, movement restrictions, and closing of schools/daycare centers and workplaces, have been strictly implemented in many countries across the world. Although these measures have helped manage the pandemic's health-related aspects, they have put a significant burden on the country's economies in general.

Studies conducted during previous pandemic situations have revealed that pandemic-related challenges, such as social isolation, loss of a job, financial hardship, parenting stress, increased alcohol/illicit drug consumption, and emotional distress can significantly increase the risk of family violence, including child abuse. However, because of the pandemic-related restrictions, professionals who are competent for recognizing child abuse cases have limited access to children and their families. This may lead to underreporting of child maltreatment cases.

The current study has been undertaken to evaluate the extent of underreporting of child maltreatment cases by different professionals, such as educators and healthcare providers.

Current study design

The scientists estimated the number of child maltreatment cases monthly received by child protection committees in New York City from January 2015 to May 2020. They also evaluated the number of investigations carried out by child protective services during this period.

Specifically, they analyzed the data collected between January 2015 and February 2020 by seasonal Autoregressive Integrated Moving Average modeling to investigate the deviation between observed. They predicted numbers of child maltreatment cases and childcare investigations for March, April, and May 2020. They separately analyzed the cases reported by authorized reporters (educators, social service providers, law enforcement officers, and medical and mental health personnel) and non-authorized reporters (caregivers, friends, neighbors, and other relatives).

Important observations

The scientists observed that a lower than expected number of child maltreatment cases were reported in March, April, and May 2020 in New York City. Moreover, the reduction in reporting was significant for all subgroups of reporters. A reduction in the number of investigations carried out by child protective services was also noticed in the study.
Specifically, the number of child maltreatment reporting reduced by 29% in March and by 50% in April and May 2020. The scientists believe that the underreporting of child maltreatment cases is likely due to pandemic-related restrictions, such as closure of schools/daycare centers.

Fig. 1

Child Maltreatment Allegations in New York City, March 2019 to May 2020. The figure shows observed and predicted values for the number of allegations of child maltreatment reported to the Administration for Children’s Services in New York City from March 2019 to May 2020. Predicted values for March 2019 to February 2020 were derived from SARIMA models trained using data from January 2015 up to, but not including, the month being predicted. Predicted values for March 2020 to May 2020 were derived from SARIMA models trained using data from January 2015 to February 2020.

Study significance

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic related restrictions, the number of pediatrician-children meets has been reduced significantly in New York City. Similarly, the provision of direct interaction between educators and children has been reduced due to school closures. Although many virtual platforms have been created to facilitate educational and healthcare services, children and caregivers generally feel uncomfortable reporting any incidence of maltreatment online because of a lack of privacy. According to the scientists, these are the major reasons for underreporting, and with the pandemic restrictions continuing, there remains a possibility of missing many cases of child maltreatment nationwide.

Many online portal services that receive reports directly from child maltreatment victims have reported a 31% induction in the numbers of received reports. Similarly, many hospitals have reported a sharp rise in child admission due to severe injuries from family violence. These findings indicate that the reduced number of child abuse reports observed in the study is due to underreporting and not due to an actual reduction in child abuse incidence.

Given the significant impact of financial hardship and psychosocial stress on child maltreatment, the researchers suggest that healthcare providers and educators should be more vigilant about detecting possible child abuse signs during their online visits to children.

Journal reference:

  • Rapoport E. 2020. Reporting of child maltreatment during the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic in New York City from March to May 2020. Child Abuse and Neglect. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0145213420303744?via%3Dihub

Article posting reference:

Dutta, Sanchari Sinha. (2020, November 12). 250,000 cases of child abuse or neglect may have gone unreported in U.S. COVID pandemic. News-Medical. Retrieved on November 25, 2020 from https://www.news-medical.net/news/20201112/250000-cases-of-child-abuse-or-neglect-may-have-gone-unreported-in-US-COVID-pandemic.aspx.

Author: Dr. Sanchari Sinha Dutta, PhD

Written Date: November 12, 2020

Dr. Sanchari Sinha Dutta is a science communicator who believes in spreading the power of science in every corner of the world. She has a Bachelor of Science (B.Sc.) degree and a Master's of Science (M.Sc.) in biology and human physiology. Following her Master's degree, Sanchari went on to study a Ph.D. in human physiology. She has authored more than 10 original research articles, all of which have been published in world renowned international journals.

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American Psychological Association

How COVID-19 may increase domestic violence and child abuse: National crises ramp up stress among couples and families. Psychologists identify the risks and point to resources that can help.

As the nation grapples with the spread of COVID-19, Americans are being told to go home and stay there, for their safety and everyone else’s. But for victims and survivors of domestic violence, including children exposed to it, being home may not be a safe option — and the unprecedented stress of the pandemic could breed unsafety in homes where violence may not have been an issue before.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men in the United States have experienced violence from an intimate partner in their lifetime— and the risks to victims are severe. CDC data link intimate partner violence with an increased risk of injury and death. About 41% of female intimate partner violence survivors and 14% of male intimate partner violence survivors sustain a physical injury from their abusers, and about 1 in 6 homicide victims are killed by their intimate partners. 

Violence in the home can also lead to adverse health and mental health outcomes, including a higher risk of chronic disease, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and risky sexual and substance use behaviors. 

Now, experts worry that all these numbers could increase dramatically during this period of social distancing and quarantine. Psychologist Josie Serrata, PhD, a research and evaluation consultant and co-owner of Prickly Pear Therapy and Training, has found in her research that stress and social isolation can raise the risk of domestic violence.  Increased risk

In her 2019 study (PDF, 1,56MB)on how Hurricane Harvey affected families that had already experienced domestic violence, Serrata found the stress associated with the disaster led to higher rates of both domestic violence and child abuse during and after the hurricane.  “We found social factors that put people more at risk for violence are reduced access to resources, increased stress due to job loss or strained finances, and disconnection from social support systems,” Serrata says. “With this pandemic, we’re seeing similar things happen, which unfortunately leads to circumstances that can foster violence.”

“Being on lockdown, having fewer choices, having other people make large life choices for you, like when you can leave the house — these things replicate the trauma that some LGBTQ people have experienced both in their relationships and as members of oppressed and marginalized groups,” Lippy says. 

Those in sexual and gender minority communities, and especially sexual and gender minorities of color, are disproportionately more likely to be homeless or unstably housed, have disabilities and be un- or underemployed. These stressors, Lippy says, compounded with the stress of the pandemic, could increase the risk of partner violence. 

Many organizations that serve sexual and gender minority survivors of domestic violence may also struggle to stay afloat during the pandemic. 

“From an organizational standpoint, it’s hard to stay on top of all the changing services and resources available during COVID-19, especially ones appropriate for LGBTQ communities,” Lippy says. “Many culturally specific organizations have been historically underfunded, so it has been harder for us to quickly transition to providing remote services and programs for survivors.”

Risks for children

Children are also especially vulnerable to abuse during the pandemic, says child psychologist Yo Jackson, PhD, associate director of the Child Maltreatment Solutions Network at Penn State. Research shows that increased stress levels among parents is often a major predictor of physical abuse and neglect of children, she says. 

“Even parents who have great child management skills and great bonds with their kids are going to be tested,” saysJackson. “There’s a perfect storm happening in millions of homes for kids to be at greater risk for these negative interactions. “

The financial strain many Americans are experiencing due to business and other closures will also put children in many homes at a greater risk of abuse and neglect, says Amy Damashek, PhD, an associate professor of psychology at Western Michigan University who studies child maltreatment. Many of these families may also not have access to the technology needed for children to stay connected with friends and extended family, which Damashek presents as another risk factor.

To add to the tension, children are also experiencing their own stress and uncertainty about the pandemic. Stressed parents may be more likely to respond to their children’s anxious behaviors or demands in aggressive or abusive ways. 

All parents should be focusing on keeping their stress as low as possible right now, such as by talking walks or limiting their media exposure, say Jackson and Damashek. “Anything that reduces stress can reduce the risk for abuse and neglect,” Damashek says.

Jackson recommends prioritizing self-care and taking a break from parenting duties whenever possible to lessen the risk of lashing out at a child. While it’s important for parents to attune to their children’s needs, they need to attune to their own needs as well.

“The only way for you to reduce the risk of violence against children is to take care of yourself,” says Jackson. “There are no super parents; only parents who are more tuned in and connected to themselves.”


To help these vulnerable populations during the pandemic, psychologists and social service organizations are banding together to provide emergency domestic violence and child abuse resources in response to the expected rise in cases. Psychologist J. Gayle Beck, PhD, director of The Athena Project, a research clinic at the University of Memphis that provides free mental health services to domestic violence survivors, says organizations in her area are continually communicating about which shelters are open or closed, who has room for more women, and providing resources to organizations that may be understaffed or underfunded.

“Every abuse victim’s situation is slightly different, so finding resources for people that match their needs and situations is taking a lot of communication between organizations,” says Beck. “It’s all getting us ready for when things become a bit more complicated.”

Beck also encourages clinicians to adopt a long-term view and be prepared for an uptick in demand for care and social services related to domestic violence and child abuse. The country may not feel the full weight of the ramifications of the pandemic for months or years to come. “We all need to be vigilant and mindful that our clientele may have increased mental health issues as a result of domestic violence,” she says. 

Other health-care providers should also be on the lookout for patients potentially in crisis. In several European countries, those in abusive situations are being told by the government to report the abuse to their local pharmacist, using the code word “mask 19” if they can’t speak openly.

If you or a loved one needs help for a domestic abuse situation, consider these resources:

Article Citation:

Abramson, A. (2020, April 8). How COVID-19 may increase domestic violence and child abuse. http://www.apa.org/topics/covid-19/domestic-violence-child-abuse.

Date created: April 8, 2020

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