Covid-19: Not Everyone is Safer with Social Distancing
20% of all calls regarding child abuse and neglect come from schools. With schools closed, families remaining at a distance, children inside, and parents stressed by the current circumstances, this creates a perfect storm of events to endanger children.
Children being left home alone due to school and daycare closures, is also an increased risk.
The most pressing concern of all however, is the fact that the Department of Health and Welfare is no longer performing in-person checks, only virtual visits for children who are in Foster Care.
Child welfare officials say they have a plan for keeping tabs on children who already are on the state’s radar. However, they also admit they are expecting a spike in child abuse and neglect cases as soon as the quaratine’s are lifted. Children who have not yet come to social workers’ attention remain at higher risk.
“We don’t want this health pandemic to become an abuse pandemic; but there’s only so much we can do” A representative of a Child Welfare agency admits.
Risk factors for child abuse and neglect – including parental stress, economic instability and housing insecurity – increase in situations like this. Adding that children with existing behavioral problems (as children in Foster Care frequently have) are prone to act out as their parents tension levels rise.
Of children who are sexually abused, 90% know the perpetrator, which could make children staying at home even more vulnerable.
“During this time,” says Ted Phillips, the TexProtects CEO, “I think everyone needs to have a more watchful eye on children if you suspect anything is wrong.”
If you suspect child abuse, DON’T WAIT TO CALL! Call 211 and ask to report suspected child abuse or negelct. You could mean the difference between safety and harm for a child.
If you want to do more for these children at risk, volunteer to be their advocate! Learn to fight for their rights, and represent their best interests. It only takes 5-8 hours a month to be a Guardian ad Litem with the 3rd District Guardian ad Litem Program. We offer free, video conferencing for pre-service training, and hands-on support as you seek to protect the children you are assigned.
If you are unable to volunteer at this time, donations are always appreciated. We currently do not have the financial ability to serve every child in Foster Care with a volunteer advocate. Your contributions will make a difference. For $88 a month, you can sponsor advocacy for a sibling group the entire duration of their time in Foster Care.