Covid and the Rise of Child Abuse and Teen Suicide

Dr. John DeGarmo
6 min readOct 12, 2021

A new study finds that the physical abuse of school-aged children tripled in 2020. As schools were closed across the nation, and children remained at home, the rate of child abuse rose significantly between the months of March to September of 2020.

The study focused upon data gathered from more than 39,000 children treated at nine pediatric trauma centers, and found that 2,064 were victims of suspected child abuse. The study also found that the number of child abuse victims tripled for children 5 years of age and older.

“We’ve had several hundred more cases than we’ve ever had in our 23-year history this year,” said Kristen Howell, CEO of the Children’s Advocacy Center for Denton County.

“When families are forced to be isolated and their incomes potentially limited, I think it’s going to create a lot more stress for families that are already volatile,” said Kim Garrett, CEO of Palomar, Oklahoma City’s family justice center. Indeed, Garrett believes that the time of self isolation may very well “increase domestic violence and child abuse.”

A study in Pennsylvania found that deaths and near-deaths of children as a result of abuse rose, as well, In 2019, 51 children died and 93 children nearly died as the result of child abuse. In 2020, 73 children died and 115 children nearly died as a result of child abuse. Together the two indicators rose 31 percent.

Indeed, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, teachers and professional who work in America’s school system are responsible for reporting 1 in every 5 child-mistreatment claims. With both teachers and child welfare workers now at home, and no longer working with children at risk, the number of cases of suspected child abuse and neglect reported may likely drop drastically. As a result, these children will not find the support and resources they need, and instead remain in harmful and even violent and life threatening environments.

Prior to Covid, studies show that up to five million children in the United States experience and/or witness domestic violence each year. Whether…

Dr. John DeGarmo

Leading foster care expert and international empowerment speaker