The Perfect Storm: Hidden Risk of Child Maltreatment During the Covid-19 Pandemic

Academic Article


  • The Covid-19 pandemic upended the country, with enormous economic and social shifts. Given the increased contact from families living in virtual confinement coupled with massive economic disarray, the Covid-19 pandemic may have created the ideal conditions to witness a rise in children’s experience of abuse and neglect. Yet such a rise will be difficult to calculate given the drop in official mechanisms to track its incidence. The current investigation utilized two studies conducted early in the pandemic to evaluate maltreatment risk. In the first cross-sectional study, parents (n = 405) reported increased physical and verbal conflict and neglect which were associated with their perceived stress and loneliness. In the second study, parents (n = 106) enrolled in a longitudinal study reported increased parent-child conflict, which was associated with concurrent child abuse risk, with several links to employment loss, food insecurity, and loneliness; findings also demonstrated increases in abuse risk and psychological aggression relative to pre-pandemic levels. Findings are discussed in the context of a reactive welfare system rather than a pro-active public-health oriented approach to child maltreatment, connecting with families through multiple avenues. Innovative approaches will be needed to reach children faced with maltreatment to gauge its scope and impact in the pandemic’s aftermath.
  • Published In

  • Child Maltreatment  Journal
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Rodriguez CM; Lee SJ; Ward KP; Pu DF
  • Start Page

  • 139
  • End Page

  • 151
  • Volume

  • 26
  • Issue

  • 2