Raw Truth About Closing Schools
For most kids, school is all about learning and friendship. For some kids, school is a lifeline. It’s a free breakfast, snack and lunch. It’s clocking hours and bridging relationships each day with teachers, guidance counselors, coaches and other mandated child abuse reporters. Each day an at-risk child attends school, all of these people talk to, check-in with, monitor physical and emotional health and behaviors which are essential to early intervention for children experiencing abuse. So what happens when POOF all those points of contact go away? The short answer: so does the reporting and early intervention. And then what happens? Instead of getting a handle on situations early, we’re keeping children in these environments during a high stress time, and we learn of the abuse only after the injuries sustained are so bad that kids end up in the ER.
Approximately 80% of all child deaths caused by abuse or neglect are committed by one or more of the child victim’s parentsKids Count
No School Means No Mandated Child Abuse Reporters
With mandated reporters no longer having access to children via school, we simply we leave the door wide open to child abusers of all kinds.
According to the Sacramento County Department of Child, Family and Adult Services, the county saw a 49% drop in child abuse calls for April and May compared to the same months in 2019.
There’s been a 50 percent decrease in calls to ChildLine, a state hotline that accepts reports of suspected abuse 24 hours per day. In April 2019, there were 21,232 reports made to ChildLine. Last month, 10,674 reports were made, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services.
Hotline reports of abuse and neglect between mid-March and mid-April were 62 percent lower than in the same period last year, according to the D.C. Child and Family Services Agency.
Suggested Post: Quarantine Homeschool Pods
What Happens When Abuse Reporting by Schools is Suspended?
There is no reason to believe there would be less occurences just becasue reporting is down. In fact, the added stress on families may mean there is actually more during the pandemic.
Sad trends point to more children than average being abused so badly they end up in the Emergency Room. Cook Children’s Hospital began identifying increased ER visits in mid-March. In just one week, six children had been admitted with signs of severe physical abuse. Two of the children died the same day they were admitted. Typically, the hospital sees four to six deaths in an entire year from child abuse…yet there were 2 in just one week.
Additionally, older children are caring for younger children while parents work. Children too young to adequately care for babies and toddlers are tasked with the job, opening the door to more accidental injuries. Some parents cannot work inside the home, and for parents living paycheck to paycheck, those not eligible for unemployment or [fill in the blank with dozens of scenarios] earning money is not optional in order to feed their family. These socio-economically challenged families are faced with hard decisions and are incrementally more negatively impacted by quarantine and remote schooling.
Long Term Mental Health of Children Should Not Be Underestimated
Their wounds will heal, but will they heal? Emotional trauma lives long past it’s physical signs, and can lead to increased likelihood of drug and alcohol abuse, crime, mental illness, and a myriad of other issues.
Dosomething.org reports that children who experience child abuse and neglect are 59% more likely to be arrested before the age of 18, 28% more likely to be arrested as an adult, and 30% more likely to commit a violent crime.
By protecting our most physically fragile segment of the population, are we inadvertently overlooking our most emotionally fragile? The short answer is: yes.
Economic Consequences of Child Abuse Costs Americans Billions
With less early intervention, we can expect more costs associated with abuse.
According to the CDC, the total lifetime economic burden associated with child abuse and neglect was approximately $428 billion in 2015. This economic burden rivals the cost of other high profile public health problems, such as stroke and type 2 diabetes.
4 common types of child maltreatment
• Physical abuse
• Sexual abuse
• Emotional abuse
Notable Child Abuse Statistics from the CDC
- 1 in 3 female rape victims experienced it for the first time between 11-17 years old.
- 1 in 8 female rape victims reported that it occurred before age 10.
- About 1 in 4 male rape victims experienced it for the first time between 11-17 years old.
- About 1 in 4 male rape victims reported that it occurred before age 10.
- Rates of child abuse and neglect are 5 times higher for children in families with low socio-economic status compared to children in families with higher socio-economic status.
- At least 1 in 7 children have experienced child abuse and/or neglect in the past year, and this is likely an underestimate.
- In 2018, nearly 1,770 children died of abuse and neglect in the United States.
What is being done to help these children? As our nation copes with the pandemic, I am sadly of the opinion that not nearly enough is happening. In fact, have you even heard of this issue factored into school closure decisions? Or have you heard about how your local school and child agencies will be supplemented to provide for this gap? Probably not. I sure haven’t. And I live in a major metropolitan city with a large socioeconomically disadvantaged population.
Should school re-open? The repercussions of all choices run deep. There’s no clean cut answer, but this predictable outcome needs more attention.
The debate of who or what is most important isn’t one that anyone wins. For every choice, there are consequences. I just want to draw attention to the consequences for children as a result of quarantine and remote learning.
Children have no voice. We are their voice.
Your Ideas and Thoughts
I would love to hear your ideas, thoughts, suggestions and otherwise to help the children currently impacted. This might be policy change, or simply how to be a good neighbor, how to help, etc. It takes a village!