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"Locked in a Jail Cell in Your Own Home": Child Maltreatment Investigators' Perspectives of COVID-19's Effects on Maltreated Children.

Child Maltreatment 2023 December 13
Children were at a greater risk of adverse experiences, including maltreatment, during the COVID-19 pandemic given the increased stress experienced by families and reduced visibility outside the home. Child maltreatment investigators witnessed the effects of the pandemic on maltreated children and offer valuable insight regarding children's experiences during the pandemic. The objective of this study was to examine child maltreatment investigators' perspectives of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on maltreated children and their families in Canada. Sixteen child maltreatment investigators were recruited from agencies across Canada that investigate or offer services to children suspected of having been maltreated. Three focus groups were conducted, which followed a semi-structured interview guide developed by the researchers. Thematic analysis resulted in five primary themes regarding maltreatment investigators' perceptions of the pandemic's effects on children, including child maltreatment during the COVID-19 pandemic, increased exposure to violent and traumatic events, stress and challenges faced by families, reduced access to services, and challenges and delays with maltreatment investigations. Child maltreatment investigators perceived that the pandemic profoundly impacted maltreated children and their families. It is critical to ensure children and parents have access to services during future emergencies.

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