Amanda M. Stylianou, a national expert on child violence and health outcomes based at Rutgers University Behavioral Health Care at Rutgers Health is available to speak on the impact of social distancing on child abuse for April’s Child Abuse Prevention Month.

According to the Children’s Bureau, an estimated 1,770 children die of abuse and neglect each year.

“While social distancing may be difficult for many of us, for those children that live in unsafe homes – where abuse and violence occurs – staying at home can be a terrifying reality,” Stylianou said. “For those children who rise every morning eager to attend school and community activities – for social connectedness and as an escape from daily abuse and violence in their home – social isolation can have a devastating impact on their safety, health and wellbeing. Social connection is a major protective factor for children experiencing violence and abuse.”

Stylianou advises that child abuse cases could rise as the coronavirus pandemic forces people to stay home. “At this time of crisis, when family stress is at an all-time high, we expect that child abuse is likely to increase. However, when children are isolated, there are less people that see the signs of child abuse. Neighbors are not spending time with children in their community, extended family members are separated from each other, and the schools and children’s activities are closed. For children experiencing abuse in the home, there are fewer safe adults they can reach out to at this time.” Stylianou recommends that people reach out to family, friends and neighbors. She noted that services and 24/7 hour support are still available. If you are concerned about the safety of your children or children in your community call your state’s child abuse hotline.