Angelina Jolie Shines a Light on Children Vulnerable to Child Abuse During Coronavirus Crisis

Angelina Jolie wrote a powerful TIME op-ed on the vulnerability of children living in dangerous domestic situations amid the coronavirus pandemic

Angelina Jolie
Photo: Ernesto S. Ruscio/Getty

Angelina Jolie is putting her focus on the plight of vulnerable children during the coronavirus pandemic as millions of people have been told to stay at home.

The actress, 44, wrote an op-ed for TIME magazine in which she noted that while children appear to be less susceptible to the virus, they are “especially vulnerable to so many of the secondary impacts of the pandemic on society.”

Jolie wrote about the isolation of a potential victim of abuse inside of a home that is unsafe.

“Isolating a victim from family and friends is a well-known tactic of control by abusers, meaning that the social distancing that is necessary to stop COVID-19 is one that will inadvertently fuel a direct rise in trauma and suffering for vulnerable children,” Jolie wrote.

Notably, the coronavirus pandemic has “come at a time when children are deprived of the very support networks that help them cope: from their trusted friends and teachers to after-school sports activities and visits to a beloved relative’s house that provide an escape from their abusive environment,” added the Oscar winner.

The mother of six, whose oldest son, Maddox, returned home from university in South Korea, pointed out schools “are a lifeline of opportunity as well as a shield, offering protection” to children who live in violent environments.

“It’s not just that children have lost support networks,” Jolie wrote. “Lockdown also means fewer adult eyes on their situation. In child abuse cases, Child Protective Services are most often called by third parties such as teachers, guidance counselors, after school program coordinators and coaches.”

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She continued, “All this poses the question: What are we doing now to step up to protect vulnerable children from suffering harm during the shutdown that will affect them for the rest of their lives?”

The Maleficent: Mistress of Evil star urged people to “make a point of calling family or friends, particularly where we might have concerns that someone is vulnerable.”

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

In March, Jolie donated $1 million to No Kid Hungry, an organization distributing meals to children who relied on school lunches.

“As of this week, over a billion children are out of school worldwide because of closures linked to coronavirus,” Jolie said in a statement. “Many children depend on the care and nutrition they receive during school hours, including nearly 22 million children in America who rely on food support. No Kid Hungry is making resolute efforts to reach as many of those children as possible.”

Jolie also made a donation to the UN Refugee Agency and sent support to the schools she funds in Afghanistan, Cambodia, Kenya and Namibia to help ensure they can continue teaching and learning through the pandemic.

She currently funds 10 schools in Cambodia through the Maddox Jolie Pitt Foundation, set up in the name of her oldest son who she adopted in the Asian country. She also gives to the Angelina Jolie school for girls in Kenya and two other schools for girls in Afghanistan.

On a worldwide scale, Jolie is working with UNESCO on the establishment of a Global Education Coalition to help children access distance learning during the period of school closures.

Parents and caregivers seeking meals for children can text the word “FOOD” (or “COMIDA”) to 877-877 to find emergency food distribution sites in their neighborhoods.

As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from CDC, WHO, and local public health departments. To help provide doctors and nurses on the front lines with life-saving medical resources, donate to Direct Relief here.

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