Thursday, April 9, 2020

NCCPR in Youth Today: COVID-19 Surfaces Child Welfare’s Ugly Biases About Race, Class

“The Coronavirus Could Cause a Child Abuse Epidemic”
—Headline on opinion column, New York Times

“We must not allow a public health pandemic to become an abuse pandemic.”
Globe & Mail columnist in Toronto

“We cannot let a health pandemic become a child abuse pandemic!”
—Sheriff in Texas on Twitter

 “I’ve read some articles where it said this a coronavirus pandemic. I also read it could become a child abuse pandemic.”
—Georgia director of a child advocacy center

Well, yes. By now, just about everyone must have read some version of the hype and hysteria around the fact that, thanks to COVID-19, fewer mostly white, middle-class “eyes” will be on children who are overwhelmingly poor and disproportionately nonwhite.

What this kind of hysteria really shows us is the extent to which racial and class biases permeate child welfare and our perceptions of the families caught up in the child welfare system. That claims of a “pandemic” of abuse are amplified in news coverage with no thought to what people making those claims are really saying should give us pause, too.