A majority of teenagers say they endured insults, put-downs and other forms of emotional abuse from a parent or other adult at home during the height of the pandemic lockdown in 2020, according to a survey released Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The findings offer a stark appraisal of how high school students have fared during the pandemic.
“These data echo a cry for help,” Dr. Debra Houry, the CDC’s acting principal deputy director, said in a statement. “The COVID-19 pandemic has created traumatic stressors that have the potential to further erode students’ mental wellbeing.”
In a call with reporters Thursday, Kathleen Ethier, director of the CDC’s Division of Adolescent and School Health, said the survey results underscored “the degree to which families were experiencing stress” during the pandemic.
“Our data make it clear that young people experienced significant disruption and adversity during the pandemic and are experiencing a mental health crisis,” Ethier said.
The survey findings, which were published as a series of reports Thursday, are based on the responses of a group of 7,705 nationally representative high school students. Participants were asked to complete the Adolescent Behaviors and Experiences Survey in the first half of 2021, though the questions asked about experiences from the previous year, 2020.
In general, 66% found it difficult to complete their schoolwork during the pandemic.
More than half of the high school students — 55% — said they were on the receiving end of cursing or other verbal insults from an adult in the home during pandemic lockdown. Nearly three-quarters of those students identified as lesbian, gay or bisexual, and 63% were young women.
More than 1 in 10, or 11.3%, said they suffered physical abuse, such as hitting, beating or kicking.
It remains unclear how significant a role lockdown played in such reports. “There is no way to know specifically whether our findings reflect something new due to the pandemic or existing levels of abuse from prior to the pandemic,” Ethier said.
Ariana Hoet, a pediatric psychologist, noted that caregivers, including parents, were also very stressed during the pandemic, and that may have resulted in verbal and emotional outbursts within the home.
This story first appeared on NBCNews.com.