Domestic violence in families in the Netherlands during the coronavirus crisis: A mixed method study
Child Abuse and Neglect
Background: The consequences of the coronavirus crisis are considerable for everyone in the Netherlands. Although there were concerns about the many vulnerable families who were forced to stay at home because of the measures taken by the government to contain the coronavirus in the Netherlands, there has been no increase in the number of reports of domestic violence or child abuse. Objective: To gain insight by a mixed method study on what has happened during the lockdown within families who were already known to social services. Methods: A quantitative study was performed among 159 families recruited before the coronavirus crisis, and 87 families recruited during the lockdown in the Netherlands through child protection services. Family members (parents, children) completed questionnaires about interparental violence, (historical) child abuse and neglect, and emotional security. In a qualitative study 39 of these respondents and 13 professionals were interviewed. Results: No difference was found in violence between families who participated before and after the lockdown. The level of violence is still high in most families. The absence of assistance promoted the self-reliance of children and parents to deal with this difficult period. Professionals found new ways of connecting to families at risk. Every form of support is important to these families because it made children feel seen and heard. Isolation of families where domestic violence and child abuse occurred, remains a risk factor, even outside the coronavirus crisis.