Most people think that the novel coronavirus presents no threats to kids, but the reality is more complicated than that. In fact, children can get the disease and while most fare better than adults, those with a compromised immune system are still at risk of complications and even death. But coronavirus is dangerous for kids beyond the actual risk of infection and it sadly presents the biggest risks to the most vulnerable children.
Cornavirus is Dangerous for Kids at Risk of Abuse
In our continuing coverage of the coronavirus, we previously discussed how shelter-at-home orders have been particularly dangerous for victims of domestic violence. There are multiple reasons for this, including increased financial stresses at home, higher-than-usual friction at home from being stuck in a house together, and anxieties related to the virus itself. But while that article focused on the impact of these factors on domestic partners, children are also likely to suffer increased abuse as a result of the Covid-19 lockdowns.
Sadly, as children are at increased risk of abuse, mandatory reporters of child abuse, such as teachers and school nurses, are seeing children far less frequently if at all. Even social workers have been unable to do their usual home checks as frequently as possible due to safety concerns, although a new law has increased funding to provide these workers with much-needed protective gear.
It’s not just experts speculating that coronavirus is a danger to children at risk of abuse either. The O.C. Register reports that the number of reports of child abuse and neglect in Los Angeles were over 1050 for March 2 and March 9. After the lockdown went into effect, those numbers dropped to 566 on March 16, 371 on March 23, and 376 on March 30. That’s an alarming drop of nearly 2/3s. The numbers in other counties, such as San Diego are likely to be similar.
Coronavirus is Dangerous for Kids in Juvenile Detention
Another population that is at particular risk due to the coronavirus are those who are incarcerated. We already talked about how the San Diego sheriff’s department and local prosecutors have been releasing a large number of offenders and only issuing citations for most misdemeanor offenses rather than making arrests. A number of juvenile offenders have also been released early, but there are are many who are still left in juvenile facilities.
Fortunately, there have been no reports of Covid-19 outbreaks among the minors locked in juvenile detention facilities, but that’s been partially due to the fact that these facilities have been leaving inmates locked in their rooms alone all day and prohibiting visits by everyone but lawyers and court-ordered personnel to limit their potential exposure. In other words, coronavirus is dangerous for kids in these facilities not just due to the exposure risk, but also the risk to their sanity as they are largely being subjected to solitary confinement, which is difficult enough for adults, but particularly difficult for youths.
Because the aim of the juvenile court system is to rehabilitate and not punish, experts are pushing for as many youth inmates as possible to be released as they argue this isolation is a form of cruel and unusual punishment for juvenile offenders. There is evidence to support this as a beneficial move for everyone as studies show releasing most juveniles from custody with appropriate monitoring does not increase public safety risks.
It’s sad to see that the novel coronavirus is dangerous for kids in so many ways, even if they aren’t as likely to suffer dangerous complications if they are infected with the disease. If you are the parent of a child who has in a juvenile detention facility, attorney Peter M. Liss may be able to help. Similarly, if you have been accused of child abuse, molestation or neglect, please call (760) 643-4050 to discuss your situation.