A comparison of child abuse and neglect encounters before and after school closings due to SARS-Cov-2

Published on May 24, 2021in Child Abuse & Neglect
· DOI :10.1016/J.CHIABU.2021.105132
Elizabeth Salt12
Estimated H-index: 12
(UK: University of Kentucky),
Amanda T. Wiggins14
Estimated H-index: 14
(UK: University of Kentucky)
+ 4 AuthorsMary Kay Rayens49
Estimated H-index: 49
(UK: University of Kentucky)
BACKGROUND Risk factors for child abuse and neglect and commonly used reporting mechanisms were highly affected by SARS-Cov-2 pandemic; yet, little is known about the effects of SARS-Cov-2 on rates of child abuse and neglect. OBJECTIVE To compare overall rates, demographics, types of abuse and acuity of child abuse and neglect encounters seen at one university health system for the 6 months before and after school closings due to the SARS-Cov-2 pandemic. PARTICIPANTS AND SETTING Data was extracted from a database of billed ICD10 codes for child abuse and neglect including sexual abuse codes. There were 579 encounters for patients <18 years of age and 476 unique patients. METHODS In addition to ICD10 code and pre/post school closing, each encounter was identified to be inpatient, outpatient and/or emergency department. Demographic data such as age, gender, ethnicity, and race were extracted. Incident rate ratios in addition to descriptive statistics, Mann-Whitney U test, two-sample t-test, or the chi-square test of association were used in the analysis. RESULTS No significant differences were identified for total rates of child abuse and neglect encounters (p = .08), physical abuse (p = .91) nor child maltreatment (p = .86) codes or in the age (p = .46), gender (p = .58), and race/ethnicity (p = .15) of patient encounters pre- versus post-school closings. The sexual abuse incidence and inpatient encounters increased by 85% (IRR = 1.85, p < .0001; IRR = 1.85, p = .004, respectively). CONCLUSIONS Our findings provide a unique contribution to the existing literature in that we identified a significant increase in the incidence of sexual abuse and higher patient acuity as evidenced by higher rates of inpatient encounters after school closing due to SARS-Cov-2.
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