With schools and other youth-serving organizations closed to limit the spread of COVID-19, many Texas children no longer have the safety net of teachers, counselors and other safe adults around them. With fewer eyes on children, there is less opportunity to recognize abuse when it’s happening and get kids the help they need. Already, the Texas Child Abuse Hotline is seeing a significant decrease in child abuse reporting.
As responsible adults, it is up to us to help protect and support the children around us. We can be the safety net.
Everyone can play a role in keeping kids safer during these uncertain times. Here are some resources:
Recommendations for being homebound from Project C.H.A.N.C.E.:
The reality is that we are all experiencing a worldwide traumatic event and just as trauma affects us all differently so too will this event. Our children are experiencing this event as well and hear reports on the news or overhear adults talking about their concerns or worries. Children will ultimately worry as well. We strongly suggest that you give your children more support than you might usually. Below are some supportive measures:
-This virus and the responses used to address it have the potential for being an aversive experience for children and adults alike. The reality is that we as a society are already showing large scale traumatic response; hoarding, avoidance, denial. It is very important that we take care of both ourselves and our children during this time. For tips on how to reduce anxiety and stress related to COVID-19 visit this resource page listed by the CDC. Mange Anxiety & Stress
- Provide constant reassurance and positive praise as often as possible. Even if children, of all ages, look like they are handling the stress there is nothing wrong with providing support and it will have a positive result.
- Keep conversations regarding the impacts that the outbreak may have on society out of the earshot of children. Children, especially younger children, who don’t have the ability to keep the information in perspective will have a hard time processing the change.
- Develop a daily schedule for you and your children. Not only will this help keep routine and structure in the home it will also reduce trauma-associated stress from what is going on in the world around them. A structured schedule will also help them transition back to school when the time comes.
- Take into consideration how you are engaging with others; utilize self-care for yourselves as well as your children. Everyone is going to experience this change differently; so give others the space to do that, as long as it is safe to do so. `
- Follow guidelines for social distancing as you deem necessary, or until an official statement is made.
Child & Family Wellbeing:
Preventing AbuseDuring the COVID-19 Outbreak
Coping in Hard Times: Fact Sheet for Parents
The Impact of COVID-19 on Child Sex and Labor Trafficking and What you Can Do
Tip Sheet: Helping Children with Traumatic Separation or Traumatic Grief
Tips for Families with young children during the Coronavirus
Child Trends: Recommendations to support and protect children’s emotional well-being during the pandemic
Darkness to Light: Taking protective steps during the coronavirus pandemic
Monique Burr Foundation for Children: Preventing child abuse during school breaks
Generations United: Fact sheet for grandfamilies and multigenerational families
Digital Safety Resources:
Tips to Help Stop Cyberbullying
Parent Tech Talks: Age-appropriate conversations for kids and youth about online safety
Protect Young Eyes: 5 reminders while your kids are stuck at home
Beau Biden Foundation: Internet safety and cyberbullying prevention
Family Online Safety Institute: An international, non-profit organization which works to make the online world safer for kids and their families
National Cyber Security Alliance: COVID-19 Resource Library
Resources for School & Remote Learning:
Tips for Keeping Remote Students Safe
Trauma-Informed School Strategies
UNICEF: The United Nations Children’s Fund response to help children adjust to online learning due to the coronavirus pandemic
Wide Open School from Common Sense Media: A free online resource to support families and educators transitioning to remote learning
120 Digital Resources for Home-Schooling
If there is a child in your life that you’re worried is being harmed, please call the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services child abuse hotline (800-252-5400) or local law enforcement.