A health official in Missoula is warning the public that kids might be at higher risk of child abuse at the hands of their parents while in quarantine. A bizarre addition to the spate of news stories from Missoula, the press release from the Community Medical Center pieced together several pieces of statistical data that has a physician concerned that home isn’t necessarily the safest place for children.
A pediatric doctor, Dr. Laurie Carter, warned in the press release yesterday that child abuse escalated during the 2007-2009 recession. Because of the probable economic downturn, Carter believes it’s likely to see Montana parents abusing their kids because of the additional stresses of life in a pandemic and recession.
Carter stated, “While this action by the state is necessary to flatten the curve of COVID-19 in our state to preserve our medical equipment and health care staff, it also comes a ripple effect not directly related to medical illness.”
She continued, “Our nation is experiencing an unprecedented increase in unemployment, which will be followed by financial insecurity for most Montanans. If past experience can predict the future, this will likely be followed by an increase in child abuse.”
Carter indicated that children being out of the public schools and inside their homes would also lead to abuse. She used one peculiar piece of evidence for her assertion, chiefly that fewer calls to abuse hotlines were being made elsewhere in the country.
The doctor added, “Another concerning statistic is that the fewer people have been calling the child abuse hotline in Colorado since the pandemic closed school and other family services.”
Some might suggest that fewer calls to an abuse hotline means less abuse is occuring. But Dr. Carter’s logic doesn’t work that way. Her assumption is that with fewer eyes on families, from the public school to welfare services, parents might abuse their kids when no one is looking.
The sentiment expressed by Carter is actually not new, as counterintuitive as it may be that children are unduly jeopardized in their own home during a time of pandemic disease. A prominent feminist, Madeline Lane-McKinley, suggested that home is a dangerous place for people.
McKinley stated on Twitter, “Households are capitalism’s pressure cookers. This crisis will see a surge in housework — cleaning, cooking, caretaking, but also child abuse, molestation, intimate partner rape, psychological torture, and more.”
She added, “Not a time to forget to abolish the family.”
However, the best statistical evidence demonstrates that children are more likely to be abused by public school officials than by their parents at home.