School moved into full swing last week, and most families are thrilled to start their new school year. After two years of uncertainty, there is a sense of hopefulness in the air that things are finally starting to get back to normal. Gathering new school supplies, choosing the right outfits, and finding out if there are any familiar faces in the homeroom bring another level of joy and excitement.
There are, however, some families that are just relieved to go back to school—because for them, going back to school means they are finally getting back their glimpse of safety.
Experiencing Abuse at Home
The number of family violence incidents against children and youth has risen for the third consecutive year. According to Statistic Canada, there has been a year-over-year increase in the rate of reported family violence against children and youth since 2016, marking a 33% increase.
Police reports from Family violence in Canada: A statistical profile, 2019 shows that one out of three child and youth who experienced violence had been abused by a family member. The report is startling, since it doesn’t count for non-reported cases nor does it include the current state of COVID-19.
According to Campbell, in his research on family violence during COVID-19, many child welfare organizations note a significant drop especially in child abuse or neglect reports. He states that this decrease may result from fewer opportunities for detection than an actual decrease in incidence.
For the past few years, many families and children have had minimal exposure to people outside the home—such as friends, teachers, doctors and counselors who would have either encouraged them to report violence or reported violence to authorities themselves—thus violence against young people has become more hidden.
Child Maltreatment 2019 reports that 21% of substantiated child abuse or neglect reports come from education personnel, 15% come from nonprofessionals (such as friends, neighbors, and relatives), and 10.3% come from social workers and counsellors. In other words, child abuse or family violence could have been undetected during the pandemic due to the closures of schools and other community organizations—underlining that the police-reported data are likely an underestimation of the true extent of the issue.
As abuse of children and youth is often challenging to detect—particularly in the context of family violence—we need to recognize that for some students, schools are safer than being at home with an abuser. Schools, social organizations, and the community need to be aware of the current increased risk of child and family violence. As Campbell concludes in his article, “for as long as we allow family violence to remain in the shadows, it will do just that – remain.”
About Shelter Movers
Shelter Movers is a national, volunteer-powered charitable organization that provides free moving and storage services to people who are fleeing from abuse. We serve clients who are ready to leave an abusive situation either to a shelter or a safe place. If you want to learn more about Shelter Movers or donate for our cause, please visit ShelterMovers.com.