Doctors Say They Are Seeing Sharp Rise in Child Abuse, Cite "Coronavirus Stress"

Doctors Say They Are Seeing Sharp Rise in Child Abuse Cases, Believe It Is Due to the Stress Being Brought on By COVID-19

As many families across the United States have been social distancing and spending a significant amount of time indoors, an alarming trend has come to light. According to reports, there has been an increase in child abuse.

Fort Worth’s Cook Children’s Hospital reports that they have had seven patients under the age of four in the past week who have shown signs of child abuse. Two of the children have since died as a result of their injuries, according to CBS DFW.

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“We knew an increase in abuse was going to occur, but this happened faster than we ever imagined,” said Christi Thornhill, director of the Trauma Program, the CARE team and Fostering Health at Cook Children’s Hospital. “I mean this happened in a week and these are really bad abuse cases.” As CBS DFW reports, hospitals saw a similar spike in cases during the 2008 recession.

Doctors Are Seeing a Sharp Rise in Child Abuse Due to COVID-19 Stress

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Doctors in the area typically do not see this number of cases in such a short amount of time and attribute the increase to the stress being experienced as a result of the coronavirus, seclusion, and economic toll many are experiencing.

“We usually only average six deaths from abuse a year at Cook Children’s and now we’ve had two children die on the same day,” Jamye Coffman, medical director of the Cook Children’s Center for Prevention and Child Abuse and Neglect and the CARE team, told CBS DFW. “This is an issue related to stress. We are seeing it from all over from urban areas to more rural counties.”

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“Stress is not an excuse for abusing your child, but rather we hope that caregivers can recognize their stress and ask for help rather than accelerate dangerous behaviors and that others can recognize and intervene as well,” Coffman continued.

While stress is normal during this period, Coffman urges families to ask for help if they’re struggling and feel out of control. Parents and caretakers can find help at or by calling the National Child Abuse Hotline at 1.800.422.4453.

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