ON THE POINT: An expert’s perspective on the increase in child abuse cases during the COVID-19 pandemic

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Now is the time for On Point, where we chat with experts to dig deeper into the biggest news in the spotlight right now.
Today – November 19 – is World Child Abuse Prevention Day.
Sadly, countless studies have shown that sexual, physical and mental abuse of school-aged children has skyrocketed during the pandemic, especially when widespread stay-at-home orders are in effect.
It’s the same all over the world, not just South Korea.
While there is no conclusive link yet, some experts have speculated that COVID-19 and pandemic-related stresses are creating a “perfect storm” for abuse.
To make matters even more depressing, such studies only scratch the surface, as the vast majority of child abuse cases go unreported, as young people feel scared, humiliated, confused or isolated.
To find out more, we connect with Aly Suh, Professor of Psychology at Sungshin Women’s University.
Hello professor.
Professor, do we have clear evidence that anti-virus response measures increase the risk of child abuse – both in South Korea and abroad?

Since the pandemic has made it more difficult for abused children to seek help, as more time spent at home limits their social interactions, in your opinion, after about three years, is it time to keep schools open, no matter how bad the COVID situation is at some point?

For people who think they’ve seen signs of child abuse – unexplained injuries, untreated medical needs, or unexplained behavioral changes – what action can we take in Korea? And is it possible to report such suspicions anonymously?

As you deal with mental health issues in children – who are very unlikely to become seriously ill from COVID – are you disappointed that the pandemic and associated blockages are overshadowing everything, even children’s happiness and safety? In your mind, should the audience say enough is enough?

Professor Aly Suh, we appreciate your thoughts on this serious and sadly underestimated issue. We make this our goal every day, not just once a year. Thank you.


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