Domestic violence soars due to lockdowns

French authorities report that domestic violence cases increased by more than 30 percent in the first week of France’s Wuhan coronavirus lockdown. In Paris, the percentage seems to have been even higher. According to Christophe Castaner, the French Interior Minister, there was a 36 percent increase in police intervention for cases of domestic violence in the City of Lights.

Other nations have also experienced a significant rise in domestic violence following lockowns. Here in the U.S., NBC News reported that law enforcement agencies have seen domestic violence cases rise by up to 35 percent in recent weeks, depending, I take it, on the jurisdiction.

Even allowing for the possibility that NBC News is overstating the case, I have no doubt that domestic violence is spiking here because of the lockdown. The less people leave their homes, the more opportunities couples have to argue. Unfortunately, the more arguing, the more violence.

In addition, of course, being cooped up at home produces a high level of frustration for some. It also engenders a high level of uncertainty and, for many, financial insecurity. These feelings can lead to violent behavior.

Lockdowns also lead to more drinking at home. This, too, is bound to increase domestic violence.

Even so, I’m surprised to read about a 30 percent spike after just one week. Imagine what things will be like after, say, eight weeks.

Domestic violence is part of a larger set of ills that lockdowns, and the dire economic consequences that may persist when the lockdown ends, are certain to produce. Depression and suicide are part of the same package. One can view domestic violence both as an evil in itself and as a leading indicator.

So far, most policymakers around the world seem almost oblivious to these consequences. That has to change. Maybe the current wave of domestic violence will capture their attention.

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