Internet searches for terms related to child maltreatment during COVID-19: Infodemiology approach

M.M.E. Riem, P. de Carli, J. Guo, M.J. Bakermans-Kranenburg, M.H. van IJzendoorn, P. Lodder

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


© Madelon M E Riem, Pietro De Carli, Jing Guo, Marian J Bakermans-Kranenburg, Marinus H van IJzendoorn, Paul Lodder. Originally published in JMIR Pediatrics and Parenting (, 13.07.2021. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work, first published in JMIR Pediatrics and Parenting, is properly cited. The complete bibliographic information, a link to the original publication on, as well as this copyright and license information must be included.We examined internet searches indicative of abusive parental behaviors before and after the World Health Organization’s declaration of COVID-19 as a pandemic (March 11, 2020) and subsequent lockdown measures in many countries worldwide. Using Google Trends, we inferred search trends between December 28, 2018, and December 27, 2020, for queries consisting of “mother,” “father,” or “parents” combined with each of the 11 maltreatment-related verbs used in the Conflict Tactics Scales, Parent-Child version. Raw search counts from the Google Trends data were estimated using Comscore. Of all 33 search terms, 28 terms showed increases in counts after the lockdowns began. These findings indicate a strong increase in internet searches relating to occurrence, causes, or consequences of emotional and physical maltreatment since the lockdowns began and call for the use of maltreatment-related queries to direct parents or children to online information and support.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere27974
JournalJMIR Pediatrics and Parenting
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2021


This work was supported by a COVID-19 fast-track data grant from the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO; 440.20.013) awarded to MMER.

FundersFunder number
Horizon 2020 Framework Programme669249
Nederlandse Organisatie voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek440.20.013


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