By David S. Prescott, LICSW, & Kasia Uzieblo, Ph.D.
44.2 percent described persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness
that prevented them from participating in normal activities.
9 percent reported an attempt at suicide
and 20 percent said they had considered it.
55.1 percent of teenage respondents said they
suffered emotional abuse from a parent or another adult in their house in the preceding
11.3 percent said they suffered physical
This contrasts sharply with data from David
Finkelhor and his colleagues, published
in 2013, finding that (among other things) 13.9 percent of respondents ages
14 to 17 reported emotional abuse during the preceding year, and 5.5 percent
reported physical abuse.
in the most recent study, 29% reported that a parent or another adult in the
home lost a job, and 24 percent said that they had experienced hunger. One in
three high-school students simply reported poor mental health.
In all, it
seems that our field is finally starting to see the data we feared we would. Those
professionals who have watched the unfolding of the past 25 months or so are
very aware that it’s not just the kids; parents and teachers are also
experiencing intense stress. It doesn’t end there: a recent survey found
that one in five physicians plan to leave their practice in the next two years.
we go from here? Clearly, we have a lot of work to do, and the pandemic is not
actually over yet. Setting aside the fact that the world continues to face
other crises (such as the war on Ukraine and climate change) there is some good
have an opportunity to learn from these data and anticipate cases that will
come to our attention. One implication is that developing an appreciation for the
context and circumstances in which abuse occurs will be important to consider
as well as the characteristics of the person who abuses.
have a better opportunity to intervene. These data paint a clearer picture than
we had before about the nature of suffering behind closed doors. We knew it
would be bad, but at least we are better prepared to work with people whose
lives have been affected by abuse (including by perpetrating it).
have expertise that we can share when we work with others in the community. This
can include our knowledge of abuse dynamics and trauma as well as our (often
hard-won) ability to remain compassionate in the face of the horrific
circumstances of our clients.
these findings show that times have changed, and we in turn need to adapt our understanding
of abuse and neglect. Ultimately, these times – where existential crises unfold
on a daily basis – show how important it is that our field shares what we know
in order to ease the suffering of others in whatever circumstances we find