Experts warn stress from this pandemic could lead to more child neglect, abuse

ATLANTA — Child abuse is a tough topic to talk about, but it’s something that needs to be brought to the forefront now more than ever.

Oftentimes, people think of child abuse as physically harming a child, but in times such as these, with many people struggling, experts say neglect is one of the primary forms of abuse that children experience.

“Do you believe that this coronavirus stresses out parents and therefore children are more at risk?” Channel 2’s Justin Farmer asked Jewell Gooding, executive director of Mental Health America of Georgia.

“We probably have a lot more neglect going on than anything just because if parents are still having to work and children are at home, then who do you have to supervise that child? Income is always going to be the primary factor, so parents are gonna say, ‘Well, I have to work and I need income so I’m going to work, but I’m going to have to leave my child at home,’” Gooding said.


She said physical abuse is also a major concern in these times and always. And stress can be a driving factor.

“I feel like we’re going to see a lot more neglect going on, but even with the abuse, stress is absolutely one of those risk factors that people experience that could lead to some of that behavior. When you feel like you don’t have the right temperaments in place where you can have a good conversation with your child. Instead, you’re short-tempered. A lot of that is along with what stress does to our bodies. It changes your mood drastically,” she said.

Gooding urged any parent who is feeling stress or finding themselves to be more irritable to reach out for help.

“Right now, because we all are experiencing so much stress, I think it is the ultimate time to ask for help and it’s OK to ask for help because we are dealing with so much right now. It’s not fair to think that you can handle it all on your own,” she said.

The Carter Center Mental Health Program offers free resources to those in need. If you find yourself needing to talk to someone, call their emotional support line at 866-399-8938 or their crisis line at 800-715-4225.