The Neglected Ones: Time at Home During COVID-19 and Child Maltreatment
37 Pages Posted: 16 Aug 2020
Date Written: August 1, 2020
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has led to extreme social isolation, precarious employment and job loss, working from home while tending to children, and limited access to public services. The confluence of these factors likely affects child health and well-being. We combine early release child maltreatment reports in Indiana with unique and newly available mobile phone movement data to better understand the relationship between staying at home intensively during the COVID-19 pandemic and child maltreatment. Our findings indicate that the prolonged stays at home promoted by the public health response to COVID-19 resulted in reductions in child maltreatment reports overall and in substantiated reports of maltreatment. However, relative to areas that stayed home less, children in areas that stayed home more were more likely to be both reported for and a confirmed victim of maltreatment, particularly neglect. These areas have historically been socioeconomically advantaged and experienced lower rates of maltreatment. We only observe increases in confirmed child maltreatment in metropolitan counties, suggesting that the effects of staying home on child maltreatment may reflect both the differential risk of leaving home and access to services in metropolitan–rather than non-metropolitan–counties. Policymakers should consider the impacts of stay-at-home orders on child well-being when determining the appropriate public health and re-opening responses.
Keywords: child abuse and neglect, COVID-19, stay-at-home orders
JEL Classification: J12, J13, I18
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation