Families and children face fear and anxiety due to the increasing severity of restrictions, ongoing disruptions in routine, uncertainty about the future, and onslaught of information caused by the coronavirus.
The Yolo County District Attorney’s Office wants the public to to know that it appreciates all that you are doing to keep our community safe, healthy, and able to respond to this medical emergency.
Fear, anxiety, and frustration are normal reactions to an abnormal situation.
With schools and business closing, activities cancelled, children and families home around the clock, it can all feel overwhelming.
Staff at the District Attorney’s Office wants residents to know they are not alone and that we will survive this as a community.
At times like this, the risk for Adverse Childhood Experiences increases dramatically. ACEs Connection (www.acesconnection.com) recommends the following 10 ways to avoid these situations during the pandemic:
1. Think about social connection and physical distance, not social distance. Continuing to nurture close relationships with friends and relatives protect against ACEs.
2. Talk with your children. Like their parents, children may be fearful, or simply missing their routines. Ask them about their concerns. Their answers will guide you on how to talk with them. Reassure them: although this is serious, they and their parents will live through it.
3. Reach out for support, particularly if you have an infant at home. Infants exhaust and frustrate their parents. These feelings drive some parents to hurt their infants, making the first six months the most dangerous age for child abuse. If you have a baby in your home, expect these normal feelings. If your baby won’t stop crying, and it’s getting to you, put the baby down, and gather yourself. Maybe call a friend, put on headphones, and wait it out.
4. Reach out to support. Reach out to your friends or relatives with infants [and children] at home. Try to listen without offering advice – a sympathetic ear can do miracles.
5. Address concrete family needs. Shelter-in-place orders may lead families to struggling to meet basic needs. Offer to help by getting diapers for families that need them, cook a meal, or drop off food. Be on the lookout for families who have trouble getting food. If you can, contribute to local relief efforts.
6. Address parental mental health. Depression is common and treatable. Those with a history of depression, parents with newborns, and people who have lost their jobs are at particular risk. Recognize common signs of depression: anger and irritability, loss of energy, loss of interest in daily activities, and feeling helpless and hopeless. If you are concerned, reach out for help. Family doctors, pediatricians, and obstetricians are well trained in recognizing and treating signs of depression.
7. Check in with the children in your life. School teachers and early childhood educators can recognize signs of abuse or neglect. Children who are out of sight because their schools are closed are more vulnerable.
8. Be on the lookout for family violence. Many professionals expect an increase in family violence due to changes in routines, economic stress, and simply being cooped up in tight quarters together. If there is a gun in your home, this may be a particularly dangerous time. Reach out to the National Domestic Violence hotline 800-799-7233 for advice or locally, reach out to Empower Yolo’s 24-hour crisis lines at 530-662-1133 or 916-371-1907.
9. Engage with your community, in whatever ways are possible. Local, state, and federal government are mobilizing support. Decision-makers need to hear from all of us about strengthening social safety nets. Helping others gives us (and older children and teens) a sense of purpose that can help counter stress.
10. Create positive moments. Go for walks, play games, cook or bake something together. Many families are growing closer as we face this crisis together. Look for those moments that will create happy memories, even now.
“It can be overwhelming for all of us,” said District Attorney Jeff Reisig. “Turn off the news for a period of time every day and please be mindful of adult conversations about the pandemic in front of children.”
Other resources and tips for parents to reduce stress, structure home activities, and make the most of this time together can be found at www. preventchildabuse.org/coronavirus-resources and www.yolokids.org/families-guides.
As mentioned above, with schools closed, children suffering from abuse and neglect are less visible to those who can help them. If you suspect child abuse or neglect, please contact the Child Welfare Reporting Abuse Hotline at 669-2345
Whether you have children at home or not, Reisig encourages all Yolo County residents to be aware of the above information and look out for each other. Stay connected. Check-in on your loved ones and friends, offer support where you can. Just listening can help tremendously. We will get through this, together.