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Journal Article


Sinko L, He Y, Kishton R, Ortiz R, Jacobs L, Fingerman M. J. Fam. Violence 2021; ePub(ePub): ePub.


(Copyright © 2021, Holtzbrinck Springer Nature Publishing Group)






The purpose of this study was to identify changes in family conflict and abuse dynamics during COVID-19 stay-at-home orders from the perspectives of youth calling a national child abuse hotline. We analyzed text and chat transcripts from Childhelp's National Child Abuse Hotline from May-June 2020 that were flagged as coming from a child with a COVID-19-related concern (Nā€‰=ā€‰105). Thematic analysis was used to identify COVID-19 related influences of family conflict as well as how COVID-19 constraints influenced coping and survival for youth reporting distress or maltreatment to the hotline. Family conflict most commonly disclosed stemmed from parental or child mental health concerns, often manifesting in escalated child risk taking behaviors, parental substance use, and violence in the home. Conflict was also mentioned surrounding caregiver issues with child productivity while sheltering-in-place, commonly related to school or chores. Youth often voiced feeling unable to find relief from family conflict, exacerbated from physical distance from alternative social supports, technological isolation, and limited contact with typical safe places or supportive adults. To cope and survive, youth and crisis counselors found creative home-based coping skills and alternative reporting mechanisms. Understanding the unique impact of COVID-19 on youth in homes with family conflict and abuse can point to areas for intervention to ensure we are protecting the most vulnerable as many continue to shelter-in-place. In particular, this study revealed the importance of online hotlines and reporting mechanisms to allow more youth to seek out the help and professional support they need.

Language: en


Child maltreatment; Child abuse; Reporting; COVID-19; Family conflict


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