pandemic sexual abuse

What Does the Pandemic Have to Do With Sexual Abuse?

Brace yourselves. Some grim numbers about child sexual abuse have surfaced recently that remind us of how hard it is to stop predators.

—During this pandemic, what was feared has now been proven: Child sexual abuse is on the rise in recent weeks.

A national abuse hotline reports “a 22% increase in calls from people younger than 18,” according to National Public Radio. The network also reports:

“Statistically speaking, home is not the safest place for every young person. About 34% of child sexual abusers are family members. Closing schools and canceling youth activities like sports removes children from the watchful eyes of “mandatory reporters” — those trusted adults, like teachers, nurses and child care providers, who are required by law in most states to report suspicions of child abuse or neglect.”


—Another tragic new trend: An NBC News report is headlined “Child sexual abuse images and online exploitation surge during COVID-19 pandemic.”

It notes that “with tech companies’ moderation efforts constrained by the pandemic, distributors of child sexual exploitation material are growing bolder, using major platforms to try to draw audiences.”


—And a third bit of troubling news: A Guardian headline reads that “Lockdown hampering removal of child sexual abuse material online.”

The number of web pages featuring abuse being removed “has plummeted 89% during pandemic,” the newspaper reports, because “tech companies and law enforcement agencies were operating with reduced numbers of staff and did not have the capacity to take down the material.”


We at Horowitz Law wish there were a quick and simple remedy to both the horror of child sexual abuse AND the horror of Covid-19.  But we’re reminded of this bit of wisdom uttered by President Calvin Coolidge:

“Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan Press On! has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.”

(Thanks to RAINN, the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network, which runs the national abuse hotline.)

Call an Abuse Survivor Today or Someone in a Tough Relationship

During this pandemic, reports of possible child abuse are down and reports of domestic violence are up. Both trends are troubling. You can help make a difference here.

About 70% of all suspected child abuse reports come from teachers, counselors and doctors. As fewer kids see these professionals, fewer reports get made.

Is more child abuse happening now, as families are cooped up together? No one knows. But fewer reports are being called in to state child protection agencies.

That means that some children who would benefit from the intervention of child safety workers aren’t getting attention these days because of the Covid-19 crisis.

But it’s different with domestic violence, advocates say. Partner and spousal abuse IS happening more often now, they believe.

According to NBC News, “as lawmakers across the country order lockdowns to slow the spread of the virus, the lives of people stuck in physically or emotionally abusive relationships have — and will — become harder, which has already been seen in the pandemic hotspots of China and Italy.”


An abuse hotline director says she expects “the intensity and frequency of abuse escalate, a pattern that experts witnessed during the economic downturn of 2008 and immediately after 9/11, Hurricane Sandy and Hurricane Katrina.”


How can you help?

— Call someone you know today who may be in a situation like this. When victims feel ignored or isolated, their pain is compounded. So take just a few minutes to pick up the phone and connect.

— Share on social media the contact info for helpful groups at the bottom of this blog.

— Donate to organizations that fight against these two scourges. Sure, lots of groups and even for-profit businesses need help these days. But those suffering violence or at risk of suffering violence should never be far from our thoughts and near ‘the front of the line’ for our help.

Resources for victims and survivors:

Anti-Violence Project offers a 24-hour English/Spanish hotline for L.G.B.T.Q.+ experiencing abuse or hate-based violence: call 212-714-1141

The National Domestic Violence Hotline is available around the clock and in more than 200 languages: call 1-800-799-SAFE or chat with their advocates here or text LOVEIS to 22522.

For those who seeking help from domestic violence, signs of common abuse types, tips on emergency planning, tech safety, and a list support programs for housing, immigration, and financial independence can be found at https://www.safety.com/family-safety/how-to-find-help-from-domestic-violence/

Comprehensive guide that highlights the increased vulnerability for victims and how to support these populations during unprecedented times. Domestic Violence During the Pandemic: Resources for Victims and Survivors https://www.mymove.com/moving/guides/domestic-violence-resources/

RAINN, Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network 800.656.HOPE (4673). When you call 800.656.HOPE (4673), you’ll be routed to a local RAINN affiliate organization based on the first six digits of your phone number. Cell phone callers have the option to enter the ZIP code of their current location to more accurately locate the nearest sexual assault service provider.

New York State Domestic and Sexual Violence Hotline is available in multiple languages: call 1-800-942-6906 for English. For deaf or hard of hearing: 711

For immediate dangers, call 911.