How does COVID-19 impact intrafamilial child sexual abuse? Comparison analysis of reports by practitioners in Israel and the US

Dafna Tener*, Amitai Marmor, Carmit Katz, Abbie Newman, Jane F. Silovsky, Jennifer Shields, Erin Taylor

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations

Abstract

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.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number104779
Pages (from-to)104779
JournalChild Abuse and Neglect
Volume116
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Elsevier Ltd

Keywords

  • Bi-national comparison
  • COVID-19
  • Intrafamilial child sexual abuse
  • Professional interventions

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