Child Abuse and Covid-19

In 2020, home became the intended safe space to shelter from coronavirus, but the sad fact for many children is the majority of child abuse happens at home and happens within the family. With schools closed, teachers and other school staff who make up the largest portion of child abuse reports were no longer regularly seeing children to be able to spot the signs of abuse.

Added stress on families, financial stress, disrupted routines, and lack of access to community support due to COVID-19 are all contributors to an uptick in child maltreatment. This period of isolation, while necessary to keep children and families safe from the pandemic, is a perfect storm for child abuse to rise and for cases to go unreported.

Everyone can play a role in maintaining the health and well-being of families, and communities:

  • Stay connected to family and friends, and check in on neighbors and other community members (while taking the proper safety measures).

  • Share positive news and acts of kindness with your community.

  • Connect families with virtual programming for children—many public institutions and community centers are providing free virtual experiences, including educational resources, games and activities, tours of popular museums and attractions, and physical activities.

  • Continue to help support programs and services that strengthen families in our community.

  • Learn to recognize the warning signs and symptoms of abuse and neglect.

Behavioral Clues:

  • infants excessive crying or developmental delay
  • fear, anxiety, clinging
  • phobias
  • nightmares, bed wetting
  • social withdrawal
  • hyperactivity
  • poor concentration/distractibility
  • chronic school absenteeism
  • speech disorders
  • regressive behavior for age
  •  seems afraid of parent/caregiver
  • eating issues
  • depression, passivity
  • increased verbal abuse or physically aggressive behavior with others
  • destroys or injures objects or pets
  • substance abuse
  • self-harm such as cutting
  • sexualized behavior
  • symptoms of PTSD
  • avoidance of undressing
  • withdrawal to touch

Symptom Clues:

  • headaches
  • abdominal pain
  • worsening medical problems
  • frequent, unexplained sore throat
  • abnormal weight gain or loss
  • reluctance to use an extremity
  • difficulty walking or sitting
  • genital discomfort or painful urination or defecation
  • unexplained symptoms
  • vomiting, irritability or abnormal respiration

Physical Clues:

  • poor hygiene
  • dressed inappropriately for weather
  • lack of care of medical needs
    (wound care, medication)
  • fractures, dislocation, bruising
  • bites, burns, laceration
  • traumatic hair loss
  • facial injuries without good explanation

Sources: National Children's Alliance (
U.S. Administration for Children & Families (