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Suffering in Silence: How COVID-19 School Closures Inhibit the Reporting of Child Maltreatment

Resource type
Report
Authors/contributors
Title
Suffering in Silence: How COVID-19 School Closures Inhibit the Reporting of Child Maltreatment
Abstract
To combat the spread of COVID-19, many primary and secondary schools in the United States canceled classes and moved instruction online. This study examines an unexplored consequence of COVID-19 school closures: the broken link between child maltreatment victims and the number one source of reported maltreatment allegations---school personnel. Using current, county-level data from Florida, we estimate a counterfactual distribution of child maltreatment allegations for March and April 2020, the first two months in which Florida schools closed. While one would expect the financial, mental, and physical stress due to COVID-19 to result in additional child maltreatment cases, we find that the actual number of reported allegations was approximately 15,000 lower (27 percent) than expected for these two months. We leverage a detailed dataset of school district staffing and spending to show that the observed decline in allegations was largely driven by school closures. Finally, we discuss policy implications of our findings for the debate surrounding school reopenings and suggest a number of responses that may mitigate this hidden cost of school closures.
Report Number
ID 3601399
Report Type
SSRN Scholarly Paper
Place
Rochester, NY
Institution
Social Science Research Network
Date
2020/07/29
Language
en
Short Title
Suffering in Silence
Accessed
2020-08-12T16:50:40Z
Library Catalog
Extra
DOI: 10.2139/ssrn.3601399
Citation
Baron, E. J., Goldstein, E. G., & Wallace, C. T. (2020). Suffering in Silence: How COVID-19 School Closures Inhibit the Reporting of Child Maltreatment (SSRN Scholarly Paper ID 3601399). Social Science Research Network. https://doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3601399