Horrible reality facing kids during shutdown


KIDS cooped up during COVID-19 lockdowns need the public to "dob in'' domestic violence to help keep them safe, a top child safety advocate said yesterday.

Queensland Family and Child Commission (QFCC) boss Cheryl Vardon warned that some parents may have "short fuses'' and called on the public to keep an eye out for children who are abused or neglected.

"Don't be afraid to be a dobber, that's OK,'' she told The Sunday-Mail.

"Keep an eye out for the most vulnerable kids.

"Report your concerns if you see any vulnerable children at risk, to Child Safety, to police and to the parents themselves.

"Report any level of neglect where kids might be by themselves for a long time, or any evidence of domestic violence where there might be kids in the household.''

Queensland Family and Child Commission boss Cheryl Vardon. Picture: Tara Croser
Queensland Family and Child Commission boss Cheryl Vardon. Picture: Tara Croser


Ms Vardon said that "DV tendencies could be exacerbated in families thrown together for long periods of time''.

"Some people do have short fuses,'' she said.

"We're concerned that if children are not at school, we need to be extra vigilant about harm and neglect because they don't have the watchful eye of the teachers on them.''

Ms Vardon said the COVID-19 lockdowns could help families grow closer and reconnect.

She said QFCC surveys showed that children craved time and attention from their parents.

"There's an upside to being home - family bonds can be strengthened,'' she said.

"Some kids are reverting to craft, or you can take turns to tell stories.''

Ms Vardon warned that children could become "lost in technology'' if busy parents can't make time for them.

"Parents are juggling home schooling and working from home, and that's a huge juggling exercise,'' she said.

"There's a tendency for kids to get lost in technology and we have to watch out that doesn't happen.''

Ms Vardon said it was important for children to have a routine, and for parents to soothe their kids' anxiety.

"Let's keep regular routines going,'' she said.

"Kids soak up stress from parents and carers, and they're really concerned about seeing parents who've lost their jobs suddenly.

"It's OK to say, 'Yes this is a worry', but it's important to say 'We will get through this'.

"Put down your devices and listen to children, and talk about what's going on in ways that don't dismiss their anxiety - children are craving personal connections.

"Really tune in, and if you don't know the answers, research with them.''

Originally published as Horrible reality facing kids during shutdown