April 3, 2020

On today's show, Adrian and Ethan continue their discussion of the topic on everyone's mind right now, Coronavirus, and its ripple effect.  Later in the show we bring you an earlier interview with the nonprofit HANDY.

April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month, an annual observance in the United States launched in 1983 and dedicated to raising awareness and preventing child abuse.  Almost five children die every day from child abuse.

“Safer at Home.” It's a slogan used for mandatory shelter at home and lockdown measures aimed at curbing the spread of the coronavirus. But it's not true for everyone.  One consequence of the mass school closures amid the coronavirus pandemic is a big drop in reports of child abuse, which worries child welfare advocates.

In the first week of school closures in San Diego County, the number of reports to the child abuse hotline went from 1,730 to 728 — a nearly 60% decline. These numbers, which mirror those nationwide, however, don’t mean that child abuse is decreasing.

The reason for the drop is that teachers, counselors and other school officials — who are required by law to report any and all suspicions of abuse — haven’t been seeing their students each day.  Beyond teachers, social distancing eliminates contact between students and other trusted adults.  Daycare centers, extracurricular clubs, girl scouts, boy scouts, YMCA…this is all gone.

Amy Baker, research director of the Vincent J. Fontana Center for Child Protection in New York City, says, “For kids in the system, and those stuck at home in unstable environments, parenting strategies are going to be worn thin, stress is going to be up. All the risk factors for abuse are going to be heightened during this time of quarantine.

This brings us to one of our earlier interviews with the nonprofit, HANDY...

While in Fort Lauderdale, Adrian had the opportunity to talk with a nonprofit that is meeting the needs of some these children through programs that take them from early childhood into adulthood.  HANDY…which stands for Helping Abused Neglected Disadvantaged Youth… has transformed the lives of over 50,000 children and family members in Broward County since they opened their doors in 1985.  @HANDYInc

Their award-winning LIFE Program focuses on education, youth development and economic self-sufficiency. Their impact is impressive:  97% of youth remain in school and are promoted next grade, 95% of graduate high school, 68% of scholars graduate college, 92% of youth decreased risky behaviors, and more.

During the discussion, we spoke with CEO Evan Goldman, Program Compliance Manager Monique Ishmael and Life Coach Sergio Allen.

UPDATE:  HANDY is struggling right now to meet the needs of these kids.  For many of their youth, on-campus housing is their only housing option.  With school closures, there is a real-time potential for homelessness now that on-campus housing is closed.  Please consider donating to HANDY at this time of National crisis.

The stress and uncertainty caused by the coronavirus has taken its toll on parents—and children are feeling the psychological and physical brunt of it.

Childhelp.org offers a resource for both parents and children alike. The National Child Abuse Hotline is 1-800-4-A-Child or 1-800-422-4453.