Children’s Justice Centre: Child abuse on the rise since COVID


There are four different forms of child abuse. There is sexual abuse, physical abuse, neglect and emotional abuse. In Washington State, we don’t have a definition of child abuse or abuse, or an investigation (process)…for emotional abuse. However, psychological abuse typically occurs with around 92% of all other forms of abuse and is generally considered the most common type of abuse and the most damaging form.

What is the prevalence of child abuse in Clark County?

National statistics show that at least one in seven children have experienced abuse and neglect in the past year. I can’t tell you specifically what Clark County looks like, but when we’re able to collect this kind of data, it generally points in that direction for most places. He is also very well recognized as being vastly underrated. There is probably more abuse than comes to the attention of authorities or disclosures from adults who were abused as children. What we’ve seen in 2021 is 2,056 cases that have come to CJC. We haven’t investigated so many cases because we only investigate criminal cases. Other cases will go to city attorneys and patrol officers, and they will do their investigations and prosecutions.

Before the pandemic, rates of child abuse were slowly declining. How has the pandemic affected relationships locally?

Nationally, again, the numbers were slowly declining. We thought we were doing better with prevention programs, with parent education, to reduce stress in families, because it’s a big risk factor for child abuse. It wasn’t a huge, steep decline, but there was this slow, gradual decline that researchers were seeing.

Within a few months of the initial pandemic outbreak and shutdowns, reports dropped by about 50% – in Clark County, Washington State and nationally. There was a slow rebound in reports from the middle of 2020 to the end of the year.


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