She urged people to "step up to protect vulnerable children from suffering harm during the shutdown."

By Kimberly Truong
Updated Apr 10, 2020 @ 9:15 am
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Angelina Jolie is advocating for children who are vulnerable to abuse during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The actress and humanitarian wrote a powerful new essay for Time, discussing the surge in domestic violence amid pandemic lockdowns, and pointing to how children may be at risk.

"COVID-19 has cut children off from their friends, their regular schooling and their freedom of movement," she wrote. "With well over a billion young people living under lockdown worldwide, there has been a lot of focus on how to prevent children missing out on their education, as well as how to lift their spirits and keep them joyful in isolation."

Jolie added that "It’s not just that children have lost support networks. 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."

"We were underprepared for this moment because we have yet to take the protection of children seriously enough as a society," she wrote, urging readers to "step up to protect vulnerable children from suffering harm during the shutdown that will affect them for the rest of their lives.

In the past week, child abuse advocates have warned of possible increases in child abuse amid the pandemic as the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline reported a 20% increase in calls and more than four times the number of texts compared to the same time last year.

"Even though we are physically separated from each other under lockdown, we can make a point of calling family or friends, particularly where we might have concerns that someone is vulnerable," Jolie wrote in her essay. "We can educate ourselves to the signs of stress and domestic violence and know what to look out for and how seriously to take it. We can support our local domestic violence shelters."

Last month, Jolie made a $1 million donation to help children who relied on school lunches for their meals.

"As of this week, over a billion children are out of school worldwide because of closures linked to coronavirus," she said in a statement at the time. "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."