The new national lockdown announced by Boris Johnson on the 4th January is designed to halt the spread of the newest strain of Coronavirus, however as with the last lockdown there will be further reaching repercussions for the silent majority of the UK.
One of the most vulnerable of those are children especially those who are very young, yet a report from the BMJ makes for truly frightening reading for what 2021 may hold for those in most need.
Just one one month in to the last national lockdown, the number of new cases of child abuse rose by 1493% compared with the same period in the previous three years, pointing to a “silent pandemic” suffered by children in 2020. To work out this percentage, they compared the numbers of new cases of head injury caused by physical abuse among very young children between 23 March and 23 April 2020, and compared it to the same period in 2017, 2018, and 2019.
Ten children (six boys and four girls) with suspected abusive head trauma presented for treatment during March-April. Their ages ranged from just 17 days to 13 months old. This figure compares with an average of 0.67 cases a month for the same period in 2017, 2018, and 2019, representing an increase of 1493% in 2020, say the authors.
The infants’ families all lived in areas of significant social and economic deprivation. And there’s a complex interplay between abuse, mental health, substance misuse and socioeconomic factors, and the fact that children are spending more time with their parents as a result and that there will have been less interaction with reporting bodies will have only added to these risks, they suggest.
This case series represents the experience at just one specialist children’s hospital in England, but it echoes the reports coming out of countries enforcing similar measures to the UK during the period of lockdowns, and the figures are likely to be an underestimate of the scale of the problem, they warn.
Source: The BMJ8