Parents have a right to be stressed. But don't take it out on your kids

Melissa Merrick, PhD, is the president and CEO of Prevent Child Abuse America. Robert Sege, MD, PhD, is a pediatrician at Floating Hospital for Children at Tufts Medical Center in Boston and on the board of Prevent Child Abuse America.

(CNN)Just as prior generations were deeply affected by the Great Depression, the assassinations of Martin Luther King and the Kennedys and the horrors of 9/11, the Covid-19 pandemic may well be the defining moment in the lives of today's children.

That's why we owe it to our children to focus on positive experiences during these difficult times, while minimizing adverse experiences that can wound children for a lifetime.
We already know that positive experiences, especially close relationships, promote healthy child development and allow us to withstand the ups and downs of life beyond the current pandemic.
    At the same time, adverse experiences such as child abuse, neglect and family challenges -- particularly in the absence of protective factors -- can cause lasting damage to mental and physical health.
    While many parents aren't thinking about child abuse, raising awareness during this health crisis is key. That's because the increased stress we're seeing in families due to the virus can increase children's risk of abuse at the hands of their loved ones.