One year into COVID-19: What have we learned about child maltreatment reports and child protective service responses?
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BACKGROUND: A year has passed since COVID-19 began disrupting systems. Although children are not considered a risk population for the virus, there is accumulating knowledge regarding children's escalating risk for maltreatment during the pandemic. OBJECTIVE: The current study is part of a larger initiative using an international platform to examine child maltreatment (CM) reports and child protective service (CPS) responses in various countries. The first data collection, which included a comparison between eight countries after the pandemic's first wave (March-June 2020), illustrated a worrisome picture regarding children's wellbeing. The current study presents the second wave of data across 12 regions via population data (Australia [New South Wales], Brazil, United States [California, Pennsylvania], Colombia, England, Germany, Israel, Japan, Canada [Ontario, Quebec], South Africa). METHOD: Regional information was gathered, including demographics, economic situation, and CPS responses to COVID-19. A descriptive analysis was conducted to provide an overview of the phenomenon. RESULTS: Across all of the countries, COVID-19 had a substantial negative impact on the operation of CPSs and the children and families they serve by disrupting in-person services. One year into the COVID-19 pandemic, new reports of CM varied across the regions.1 In some, the impact of COVID-19 on CPS was low to moderate, while in others, more significant changes created multiple challenges for CPS services. CONCLUSIONS: COVID-19 created a barrier for CPS to access and protect children. The dramatic variance between the regions demonstrated how social, economic and structural contexts impact both CM reports and CPS responses.
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