Together for Girls, Darkness to Light, Child USA and the National Children’s Alliance are joining forces with a diverse coalition of adult survivors of child sexual abuse, advocates and leading organizations to launch #KeepKidsSafe to raise awareness about the urgent need to prioritize violence prevention and response for children during COVID-19 and beyond.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many families are now facing disruptions in routine, isolation from society, more time spent at home and online, financial insecurity, stress, and anxiety, and as a result, the risk of violence against women and children in all forms is on the rise.
Many children are now hidden from the caring adults, community members, and mandated reporters who would have protected them: friends, neighbors, family members, teachers, doctors, dentists, and even child protective service professionals.
Additionally, large numbers of children are spending unprecedented time online, increasing exposure to online violence, sexual exploitation, and abuse.
The COVID-19 pandemic is having a devastating impact across the United States, and the data shows COVID-19 has disproportionately impacted communities of color, further exposing longtime racial inequities. We also know that longstanding structural barriers have made it more difficult for Black and Indigenous communities to access a variety of critical services focused on prevention, healing, and justice to end childhood sexual violence. In some cases, the systems designed to protect individuals and families have actually caused harm and exacerbated existing inequities.
This is unacceptable. We must work together to dismantle these barriers and ensure that these systems work to protect every child and serve all families and communities during COVID-19 and beyond. We can help do this by strengthening programs that not only prevent child abuse and protect children and adolescents, but also provide trauma-informed services that help abused children heal.
We need to expand existing funding to grassroots organizations at the frontlines of child protection with programs that effectively serve diverse racial, ethnic, and religious communities, and that provide care for survivors and support for professionals who work to protect children. We must also work with allied organizations to ensure women and other at-risk populations are safe from violence.