Angelina Jolie Calls for Protecting Vulnerable Children During Coronavirus Pandemic

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Angelina Jolie

Kids, Jolie wrote in an essay for Time magazine, "are especially vulnerable to so many of the secondary impacts of the pandemic on society," including domestic violence within families isolated at home.

Angelina Jolie is asking others to join her in standing up for vulnerable children during the coronavirus pandemic.

The actress penned an essay for Time, published Thursday, in which she urged American citizens to be on the lookout for children who may be experiencing domestic violence while isolating in their homes.

"Of the many ways that the pandemic is making us rethink our humanity, none is more important, or urgent, than the overall protection of children," Jolie writes. "They are especially vulnerable to so many of the secondary impacts of the pandemic on society."

Due to the lockdown, many people have lost their jobs and are struggling financially. "We know that stress at home increases the risk of domestic violence," she writes.

"In America, an estimated 1 in 15 children is exposed to intimate partner violence each year — 90 percent of them as eyewitnesses to the violence. An average of 137 women across the world are killed by a partner or family member every day," Jolie adds. "We will never know in how many of these cases there is a child in the next room — or in the room itself."

A common tactic of abusers is to isolate the victims from their family, Jolie writes. "This means necessary social distancing could inadvertently fuel a direct rise in trauma and suffering for vulnerable children," she continues, noting that recent reports have found a surge of domestic violence.

She adds that young domestic violence victims may be struggling while they are deprived of their support networks including friends, teachers and mentors.

"For many students, schools are a lifeline of opportunity as well as a shield, offering protection — or at least a temporary reprieve — from violence, exploitation and other difficult circumstances, including sexual exploitation, forced marriage and child labor," she explains.

In addition to children losing their support system, they also have less contact with adults who may have been monitoring their living situations. Third parties — including teachers, guidance counselors and coaches — tend to report the most child abuse cases to child protective services.

The actress later suggests how we can help victims of domestic violence. "We were underprepared for this moment because we have yet to take the protection of children seriously enough as a society. The profound, lasting health impacts of trauma on children are poorly understood and often minimized," she writes, noting that many adult abuse victims are surprised by the number of people who don't believe them.

The essay concludes on a hopeful note. Jolie shares that California Surgeon General Dr. Nadine Burke Harris is "leading a drive for routine screening of children for [adverse experiences] by health care providers to enable early intervention."

Jolie urges readers to keep in touch with their friends and family, while also familiarizing themselves with the signs of stress and domestic violence. Some of the signs include personality changes, making excuses for injuries and worrying about their abuser.

The actress also shares a link to the Global Partnership to End Violence Against Children, which offers a number of resources to help protect kids during the pandemic.

"It is often said that it takes a village to raise a child," Jolie concludes. "It will take an effort by the whole of our country to give children the protection and care they deserve."