Guest Commentary: Domestic Violence 911 Calls Increased During the Pandemic, Except for in Cincinnati

Guest Commentary: Domestic Violence 911 Calls Increased During the Pandemic, Except for in Cincinnati

The COVID-19 pandemic has heightened domestic violence problems. Domestic violence rose globally in 2020 — so much so that doctors have called it “ a pandemic within a pandemic .” The National Commission on COVID-19 and Criminal Justice , a team of national experts tasked with assessing the impact of COVID-19 on the justice system, recently estimated that in the United States, domestic violence incidents increased 8.1% on average following stay-at-home orders. Worldwide, the United Nations estimates there was a 20% increase in domestic violence incidents across its 193 member states during the 2020 COVID-19 lockdowns. We are criminologists with expertise in domestic violence and policing, respectively. To understand whether and how the COVID-19 pandemic impacted calls for help for domestic violence in the U.S., we examined short- and long-term trends in 911 calls about domestic violence after stay-at-home orders in five U.S. cities and one county: Cincinnati, Ohio; Montgomery County, Maryland; New Orleans, Louisiana; Phoenix, Arizona; Salt Lake City, Utah; and Seattle, Washington. In five of the six places — all but Cincinnati — pandemic stay-at-home orders increased domestic violence-related 911 calls. But 911 calls tell only part of the story about how the pandemic affected calls for help for domestic violence. Another forthcoming study shows that emergency hotlines that provide crisis support to victims of domestic violence also saw a sharp uptick in calls. In five of the seven cities we examined — Baltimore, Maryland; Cincinnati; Hartford, Connecticut; Salt Lake City and St. Petersburg, Florida — emergency […]

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