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Journal Article


Salt E, Wiggins AT, Cooper GL, Benner K, Adkins BW, Hazelbaker K, Rayens MK. Child Abuse Negl. 2021; 118: 105132.


(Copyright © 2021, Elsevier Publishing)






BACKGROUND: Risk factors for child abuse and neglect and commonly used reporting mechanisms were highly affected by SARS-Cov-2 pandemic; yet, little is known about the effects of SARS-Cov-2 on rates of child abuse and neglect.

OBJECTIVE: To compare overall rates, demographics, types of abuse and acuity of child abuse and neglect encounters seen at one university health system for the 6 months before and after school closings due to the SARS-Cov-2 pandemic. PARTICIPANTS AND SETTING: Data was extracted from a database of billed ICD10 codes for child abuse and neglect including sexual abuse codes. There were 579 encounters for patients <18 years of age and 476 unique patients.

METHODS: In addition to ICD10 code and pre/post school closing, each encounter was identified to be inpatient, outpatient and/or emergency department. Demographic data such as age, gender, ethnicity, and race were extracted. Incident rate ratios in addition to descriptive statistics, Mann-Whitney U test, two-sample t-test, or the chi-square test of association were used in the analysis.

RESULTS: No significant differences were identified for total rates of child abuse and neglect encounters (p = .08), physical abuse (p = .91) nor child maltreatment (p = .86) codes or in the age (p = .46), gender (p = .58), and race/ethnicity (p = .15) of patient encounters pre- versus post-school closings. The sexual abuse incidence and inpatient encounters increased by 85% (IRR = 1.85, p < .0001; IRR = 1.85, p = .004, respectively).

CONCLUSIONS: Our findings provide a unique contribution to the existing literature in that we identified a significant increase in the incidence of sexual abuse and higher patient acuity as evidenced by higher rates of inpatient encounters after school closing due to SARS-Cov-2.

Language: en


Demographics; Emergency department; Maltreatment; Inpatient; Sexual abuse; Physical abuse


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