Background: There is consensus in child sexual abuse (CSA) literature that intrafamilial child sexual abuse (IFCSA) has a tremendous impact on children and families while simultaneously creating challenges for practitioners. COVID-19 impacted countries worldwide and generated a global crisis resulting in impacts on daily life, however, it's effect on IFCSA is unknown. Objective: This study aimed to compare professional perspectives and experiences working with IFCSA with respect to the context of the COVID-19 pandemic within the United States and Israel. Participants and setting: Participants were therapeutic, child welfare and legal professionals, who provided services to children involved in IFCSA. Methods: This qualitative cross-cultural comparative study analyzes professional experiences of IFCSA during COVID-19 based on an open-ended questionnaire answered online, with 37 responses from the US and 23 responses from Israel. Results: Findings reveal mostly negative changes in the dynamics of IFCSA families during COVID-19, including financial, environmental, and emotional hardships, as well as some positive changes in the relationships among family members. In terms of professional interventions, concerns were raised that COVID-19 has been detrimental to the disclosure of IFCSA, with plummeting child abuse reports. Further, risk and benefits of transferring to internet based or telephonic therapeutic interventions were shared. Conclusions: Governmental and community efforts are needed to develop a safety net of protective factors to reduce IFCSA risks and increase resiliency during the COVID-19 pandemic and future global crises. Moreover, enhanced strategies to accessing and supporting families remotely such as using technology could improve identification and response to IFCSA.
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© 2020 Elsevier Ltd
- Bi-national comparison
- Intrafamilial child sexual abuse
- Professional interventions