’Suffering in silence:’ COVID-19 and the increased risk of child abuse

As the public health crisis caused by the coronavirus continues to expand across Northwest...
As the public health crisis caused by the coronavirus continues to expand across Northwest Louisiana, an organization is on stand by, ready to respond if a vulnerable portion of the population needs love and safety.(Christian Piekos)
Updated: Mar. 23, 2020 at 3:40 PM CDT
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SHREVEPORT, La. (KSLA) - As the public health emergency caused by COVID-19, commonly known as the coronavirus, continues to increase, the threat of child abuse rises, as well.

That’s according to Jessica Miller, the executive director of the Gingerbread House, a local agency which works with children who are abused.

“From the moment the statistics started to show up and we were reading of what was to come, my heart just immediately went to kids who are suffering in silence at the hands of abusers at home,” said Miller. “Now, being at home cooped up...that’s where my heart and mind went to.”

On Sunday, Governor John Bel Edwards issued a ‘stay at home’ order, an aggressive action to mitigate the spread of the virus across the Bayou State. Though the measures will keep people isolated and distanced from one another - that’s also one of Miller’s biggest concerns.

“Even though there is social distancing, if you notice crying from your neighbor or a child crying continually, you know this is the time to ask for help and to call for help,” she added. “Don’t be afraid to step up and be a voice.”

Miller said times of economic turmoil, natural disasters and pandemics all increase the general level of stress and anxiety in society. But, she notes these times of uncertainty will never serve as an excuse to hurt a child.

“Parents are going through more stress due to job loss, economic hardships, lack of food and basic needs,” Miller said. “Being able to have a care giver who is able to provide for them what we like to call the three ‘R’s’: reassurance, routines and regulation.”

If you or someone you know is in an emergency, and could be a victim of abuse, make sure you call 911 right away. As well, if a child is involved, call (855) 4LA-KIDS, that number connects you with the ‘Child Protection Hotline.’

Regardless, the Gingerbread House and its selfless teams of professionals is standing by, around-the-clock and through this pandemic, to help a child in need.

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