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COVID-19 Will Increase Number of Children Exposed to Domestic Violence

This is an independent opinion. Have one of your own? Write it! Email it to [email protected]

COVID-19 has presented our society with a public health crisis, but a larger problem exists if we don’t act now. Childhood domestic violence is on the rise as a result of the stresses caused by the pandemic.

The Center for Disease Control reports that one in seven children have experienced child abuse and or neglect in 2019. The rate of abuse or neglect increases by five times among low socio-economic communities. 

The cost of intimate partner violence in the U.S. alone exceeds $5.8 billion per year — $4 billion are for direct medical and health care services, while productivity losses account for nearly $1.8 billion. Statistically, children who grow up with domestic violence are six times more likely to commit suicide, 50 times more likely to be addicted to drugs or alcohol, 74 times more likely to commit violent crimes, and 90% of prisoners came from domestic violence homes, according to the CDC. 

The internal consequences are many too. A child who is exposed to domestic violence abuse, both physical and verbal, during their upbringing will suffer developmental and psychological damage. Exposure to violence in the home negatively wires and encodes the child’s developing brain —negative neural pathways are formed, forming a “thumbprint.” This “thumbprint” shapes a child’s behaviors, sense of self, and how they view others. If not addressed, these negative behaviors will assimilate into their lives and it will perpetuate. The generational cycle persists.

It is up to every adult to break the cycle. Imagine what true power you have to do something that affects many generations that will come after you.

As a child who has been abused or neglected grows, they will look to others to blame. Some will mask their pain with addiction and some will not be able to cope. But that one question of “Why me and what did I do wrong?  will be ever present. The answer is simple: because your parents did not break the cycle. 

Today, it is up to every adult to break the cycle. Imagine what true power you have to do something that affects many generations that will come after you. The decision has to be a deliberate mindset and met with consistency that you will be the one who will break the cycle and bring change. You will be healthy, your kids will be healthy, your grandchildren will be healthy — that’s when you see a transformation of people and families.

Awareness is key. The number of children that are the silent victims will continue to grow with COVID-19 as long as our community is not aware of the impact of childhood domestic violence. It can be happening in our own homes or right next door. Children in these circumstances not only show some physical signs of abuse but also show signs of depression, lack of performance in school, hopelessness, patterns of secrecy and self-suppression, lack of trust, and trouble regulating emotions. 

The Thumbprint Project Foundation is a 501c(3) nonprofit that aids in the transitional process of homeless children who have been impacted by childhood domestic violence. Using data driven models, we help provide solutions that make an impact and a long-lasting difference in the lives of these children. But, we can only reach our goal with the help of the public.

These kids are our kids — our community’s kids. When they suffer we all suffer.

If you or someone you know is in immediate danger, call 911. To speak to someone about domestic violence related services available throughout San Diego, call the San Diego 24-hour Access and Crisis Line at 888-724-7240 or the National Domestic Violence Hotline 24 hours a day at 1-800-799-7233 or TTY 1-800-787-3224. To speak to someone about suicide, call 1-800-273-8255. 

For more information, please visit: www.thethumbprintprojectfoundation.com.

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About the Author

Kristie Bruce-Lane

Kristie Bruce-Lane is the founder of The Thumbprint Project Foundation. She has worked in the healthcare and agricultural industries for more than 20 years.

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