News reports across the board continue to confirm: Domestic violence is on the rise around the world, largely owing to the ongoing pandemic. Between lockdowns and quarantines, more time spent at home, rising unemployment and numerous other triggering factors, many households have become a tinder box for escalating tensions, which sometimes lead to violence.
One of the many possible aggravating factors for increased tensions at home is the fact that the children have now been stuck at home for months—andfor many, this trend shows no signs of ending anytime soon. Despite ongoing pressure from Washington for local schools to open this fall, many communities are choosing either to start the semesters with remote classes or to implement a hybrid model combining in-person and remote learning. In either case, the children will continue to spend more time at home.
This fact is raising concerns among advocacy groups as there is evidence that some children are particularly at risk for increased abuse at home during this time. For some proponents of reopening schools, their main argument for doing so is their concerns for the children at risk from staying at home. Since many of us will be dealing with some form of remote learning in the coming months, let’s explore in more detail how home education may be increasing the risks for domestic violence. More to the point, if you are experiencing increased stress from remote learning that may put your household at risk, let’s talk about some ways you can diffuse the tension and protect your household.
How Is Remote Learning Contributing to the Risk of Violence?
On the surface, it seems we should be grateful that today we have the technology to help our kids continue their education safely despite the pandemic. So why does the dynamic of learning from home work against some families? What could make it a possible triggering mechanism for domestic violence? Let’s explore some possible reasons.
• Proximity. For most families, our daily routines naturally give us time away from each other, which provides a natural equilibrium to diffuse tensions. When that cycle of distancing gets disrupted and people are forced to cluster together for longer periods of time (both kids and adults), it can naturally increase stress levels. For families already dealing with tensions, simple proximity can sometimes push them into the danger zone.
• Financial pressures. Many low-income households actually rely on the public schools to provide one or more meals a day for their children. Remote learning doesn’t include this possibility, which puts more of a financial strain on the parents—and can trigger heightened emotional stress.
• Pressure to educate. Some families homeschool their kids as a chosen lifestyle, but not every parent is equipped to take on the role of teacher. Even when remote learning is sponsored by the school, parents must take more responsibility for the education of their children, and when this responsibility is thrust on them without proper preparation, it can also add stress—and increased risk.
Ways to Safeguard Yourself and Your Family
The bad news: These stressful home dynamics (including remote learning) are likely to be with us for a while, at least until a viable vaccine is widely available. The good news: The increased pressure doesn’t have to become a recipe for disaster. There are things you can do proactively to adapt and to diffuse tensions before a difficult situation gets out of control. Let’s talk about some of these now.
It’s not selfish—it’s practical. The worst thing you can do for your family is to neglect your own physical and emotional needs because self-neglect puts you at an immediate disadvantage. You can take steps to take care of yourself without abandoning people who need you. Most of us are not currently on lockdown, so if need be, find a quiet place where you can unplug for an hour here and there. Mindfulness exercises can help you stay centered, and a nutritious diet can give you additional energy and focus. Keep a journal if it helps, and reach out for mental health assistance if you need it. Child psychologist Yo Jackson, PhD, puts it this way: “The only way for you to reduce the risk of violence against children is to take care of yourself. There are no super parents; only parents who are more tuned in and connected to themselves.”
Educate Yourself about Educating
If you related to the idea that you’re in the role of teacher while feeling ill-equipped, take some practical steps to help you find your footing. Try talking to your child’s teacher, or even to someone you know who teaches. Let them know your concerns, the problems you might be having with discipline, etc., and listen to their advice. Take a little time with your child’s curriculum and assignments so you’re not learning it at the same time they are. Most of the tension here comes from fear and insecurity, but knowledge is power. Let this time be a learning experience for you, as well, and you won’t feel so lost.
Learn When to Walk Away
Escalating tensions may be unavoidable at times, but there’s always something you can do to diffuse it. When you feel and see tempers flaring, you can choose to take a pause walk away before things boil over. Step back from the disagreement and give yourself time to cool off before trying to settle the argument. Many incidents of domestic violence could have been averted by this one tactic.
If tensions do reach a breaking point and an altercation turns physical, you may find yourself facing domestic violence charges. In such cases, you’ll need compassionate legal representation to help you navigate the challenges ahead. Call us today for a free case evaluation.