In an essay for Time magazine, the Oscar winner explained how mandated self-isolation, while necessary to curb the spread of COVID-19, was likely to “fuel a direct rise in trauma and suffering for vulnerable children.”
“We were underprepared for this moment because we have yet to take the protection of children seriously enough as a society,” Jolie wrote. “The profound, lasting health impacts of trauma on children are poorly understood and often minimized.”
Social distancing, she explained, has not only “cut children off from their friends, their regular schooling and their freedom of movement,” but also reduced the number of “adult eyes on their situation.”
“All this poses the question,” she added, “What are we doing now to step up to protect vulnerable children from suffering harm during the shutdown that will affect them for the rest of their lives?”
Early research suggests incidences of child abuse and other forms of domestic violence have been on the rise in recent weeks. Doctors at a Fort Worth, Texas, hospital told Newsweek for a March 22 piece that in the span of one week, they’d seen at least six cases of apparent physical abuse against children, one of which resulted in death. Over the course of an average month, the same facility sees an average of eight such cases.
“As of this week, over a billion children are out of school worldwide because of closures linked to coronavirus,” she said at the time. “Many children depend on the care and nutrition they receive during school hours, including nearly 22 million children in America who rely on food support. No Kid Hungry is making resolute efforts to reach as many of those children as possible.”