Educators, who are some of the likeliest professionals to report child abuse, are encountering youth who have faced abuse in isolation throughout the pandemic. During 2020, the proportion of mental health-related emergency department (ED) visits among adolescents aged 12-17 years increased 31% compared to 2019. Suspected suicide attempt ED visits were 50.6% higher among girls aged 12-17 (CDC, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 6/18/21). These stats indicate an increase in child abuse as children were confined to the home during the pandemic.
Foster Care to Adoption
Of the 428,000 children in foster care in the U.S., over 30% cannot be returned to their families and are waiting to be adopted. 135,000 children are adopted each year and there are currently 1.5 million adopted children in the United States. 59% are from the child welfare (or foster) system. Children enter foster care through no fault of their own because they have been abused, neglected or abandoned. These children are in the temporary custody of the state while their birth parents are given the opportunity to complete services that will allow the children to be returned to them if it is in the children’s best interest. Unfortunately, 30% of them never make it.
We are taught as children that we can trust our parents, our teachers, our religious leaders, the police, the mayor, and the President of the United States. It is their duty to care for us, to mean us well, and to do only good. We can trust them; until we can’t.
Learn how you can help.
CDC’s VetoViolence website has interactive tools,
trainings, and resources to help you and your community
stop violence now and prevent it in the future.
Evidence shows that different types of violence often
share the same root causes. Understanding the
causes and things that can protect people and
communities can help start or strengthen your violence
VetoViolence offers free, accredited online
trainings for you and your team as well as tools
Learn how to address violence in your
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Since 1977 when Annie opened on Broadway, theatrical artists have been portraying endangered youth who have experienced both maltreatment and engaged in delinquent behavior like Oliver Twist and Little Orphan Annie.
Oliver! and Annie, two of Broadway’s most iconic musicals, star two children caught between Juvenile Justice and Child Protective Services.
A recent article in Social Work Today highlights a true triumph of empathy. In Innovations: New Foster Care Initiative Spotlights Parent Advocates, Debra McCall describes the parents’ pain when social workers have to remove children from their families.
“It is never easy. We enter parents’ lives at the worst possible moment—when the children they love have been removed from their homes. At that point, parents are experiencing shame, anger, and confusion. They are frightened and frustrated by the “intrusion” of the child welfare system into their lives. And they fear losing their children permanently, perhaps because that’s what happened to a neighbor or a friend.” (Social Work Today, Vol. 21 No. 1 P.3)
With the onset of the corona virus pandemic and the issuance of “stay at home” orders closing schools and businesses in many local communities, child abuse reports have plummeted across the country. The agencies, which provide support for families and children as abuse cases move through the justice system, reported serving 40,000 fewer children nationwide between January and June of this year than the same period last year, from 192,367 children in 2019 down to 152,016 this year, a 21% drop, according to the National Children’s Alliance, an accrediting body for a network of 900 children’s advocacy centers. Reports of abuse have declined dramatically, they say, not because it isn’t happening, but because with everyone “sheltering in place”, teachers, doctors and others have fewer ways of catching it.
“An 18-year-old sleeps in a doorway of a public building with nothing but a tattered blanket to shield him from the cold wind. He took little more than the clothes on his back when his foster parents demanded that he leave home. He hasn’t been in touch with his biological parents in years. None of his friends’ parents will allow him to spend a night on their sofa. And he’s unfamiliar with the nearest homeless shelter.” (Social Work Today, Vol. 19, P.24, Nadine Hasenecz, MSW, LSW)