According to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN), the number of minor children who have been calling the National Sexual Assault Hotline to report abuse has been on the rise since lockdowns began to slow the spread of COVID-19.
There was a 22% increase in monthly calls to the hotline from people under 18 — and half of all their incoming calls were from minors, for the first time in RAINN’s history.
“As a result of looking at the information that we had from those sessions, it was clear that the abuse was escalating in both frequency and severity,” said a spokesperson for RAINN. “So a lot of the kids that were coming to the hotline were feeling pretty vulnerable and traumatized. And it was a direct result of COVID-19, because they were quarantined with their abuser. The abuser was now abusing them on a daily basis.”
The statistics are stark. Of the kids who contacted the National sexual Assault Hotline in March, 67% said their abuser was a family member. 79% said they were living with their abuser. In about 20% of these cases, RAINN helped the child contact police immediately.
In general, RAINN reports that around 34% of child sexual abusers are members of the child’s family.
Unfortunately, the cancellation of schools and activities has taken vulnerable children out from under the eyes of mandatory reporters like teachers, child care providers and nurses. In most states, these people are required by law to report suspected child abuse or neglect.
RAINN confirmed with authorities around the U.S. that the child welfare system is still working despite the shutdown. Any official report of current, ongoing abuse will still result in an investigation and, if necessary, the removal of the child from the home. Reports of older abuse where the child does not live with the perpetrator may be handled via video chat, however.
RAINN and other child welfare organizations are also working to make it easier for kids to report being abused. They are working with congressional leadership to integrate a reporting function into all online learning platforms.
If you or a loved one is being abused by a person you’re quarantined with, you need help now. Call the National Sexual Assault Hotline right away at 800-656-HOPE. The helpline is free, available 24/7 and completely confidential.
If you are interested in filing a lawsuit against a sexual abuser, contact a law firm with experience representing sexual assault and abuse victims.