CONCORD -- April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month. Moira O’Neill, Director of The Office of the Child Advocate noted that the purpose of a month devoted to preventing child abuse has never been more important than it is in the time of COVID-19 and Stay at Home Orders.
“Common stresses known to contribute to child abuse such as economic insecurity, unemployment, limited access to medical and mental health supports and other stressors have been exponentially multiplied with parents out of work and schools closed,” said O’Neill.
She warned about increasing stress as a result of confinement and disrupted routines. The fact that a month-long awareness measure is necessary underscores the difficulties many families face on any given day. O’Neill urged a sharp eye and a kind message for parents and children living under stress. To learn to recognize child abuse and report it she refers to Knowandtell.org or (603) 864-0216. She urged everyone to be prepared to offer suggestions for help, including contacting: 211 Infoline to find out about available services and help lines; DCYF Central Intake (800) 894-5533 (in-state) or (603) 271-6562 to report suspected abuse; New Hampshire’s chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI-NH) (603) 225-5359, or the Childhelp Hotline at 1-800-4-A-CHILD to speak or text with a crisis counselor.
“Risk of child abuse increases with stress and lack of supports,” O’Neill said.
The New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence is grateful to Governor Sununu for authorizing the Emergency Protections and Relief Funds for Domestic and Sexual Violence Organizations.
“This critical relief recognizes the severe impact that the COVID-19 crisis has on survivors of domestic and sexual violence in New Hampshire. Domestic violence victims are under intense pressure at this time due to stay at home requirements, severe isolation, and the financial impact of this pandemic. Through this potentially life-saving Executive Order, survivors will be safer from violence and abuse,” said Amanda Grady Sexton, Director of Public Affairs for the New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence.
This order provides emergency funds to help shelter victims, support their immediate needs, and provide critical funding to maintain crisis centers’ operations in order to stay open and meet the needs of victims.