Assessing Child Abuse Hotline Inquiries in the Wake of COVID-19: Answering the Call
May 3, 2021
Ortiz R, Kishton R, Sinko L, et al.
This cross-sectional study assessed the change in number of calls and texts to Childhelp, a national 24-hour multilingual and anonymous child abuse hotline, during the COVID-19 pandemic. Data from March-May 2020 was compared with that of the same period in 2019. Across both study periods, a total of 35,480 call and text inquiries were received. Overall, 96% of callers were adults, while most texters were younger than 18 years. During the pandemic, there was an increase in calls from neighbors, landlords and relatives, and a decrease in calls from school reporters and non–school-based mandated reporters, compared to 2019. Inquiries initially declined following school closures, possibly due to lack of exposure to mandated reporters. However, over time, both calls (mainly from parents) and texts increased. Overall, there was a 14% increase in the total number of inquiries in 2020 compared with 2019, possibly reflecting an increased rate of child maltreatment.
Ortiz R, Kishton R, Sinko L, et al. Assessing Child Abuse Hotline Inquiries in the Wake of COVID-19: Answering the Call. JAMA Pediatr 2021; published online May. DOI:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2021.0525.