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Increased Risk for Family Violence During the COVID-19 Pandemic

A perspective article, “Increased Risk for Family Violence During the COVID-19 Pandemic,” published online in Pediatrics today (April 21, 2020) examines how the stresses placed on families combined with the closure of classrooms and childcare heightens the risks of domestic abuse and neglect. The authors note that reports of increased domestic violence following quarantine orders in China have provided insight into the interpersonal violence risks of isolation due to the pandemic. Research has shown evidence of anger, confusion, and posttraumatic stress symptoms, as well as evidence of increases in substance use during periods of isolation. Many families are also under financial pressures and need continue to work full time during these periods. Children are likely to be more challenging and oppositional due to significant changes in routines. The authors recommend that pediatricians and other health care professionals maintain continuity of their practices, interacting with families through telehealth, and when possible contacting the families of patients at higher risk during this time. In addition to discussing with parents best practices to maintain hygiene, changes due to school/childcare closures, and taking about COVID-19 with their children, clinicians should provide recommendations for parents on managing family stress, structuring daily routines, using a “tag-teaming” approach for child care, and developing a plan to avoid family violence.

[To interview an author, contact Kathryn L. Humphreys, PhD, EdM,   Department of Psychology and Human Development, Vanderbilt University at k.humphreys@vanderbilt.edu or 615-268-6895.]

The AAP website for parents, HealthyChildren.org, offers tips on positive parenting amid the pandemic here.

Other studies and perspectives related to COVID-19 that are being published online in Pediatrics today include:

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The American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 67,000 primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists and pediatric surgical specialists dedicated to the health, safety and well-being of infants, children, adolescents and young adults.