Angelina Jolie Says People Must 'Love Each Other' and 'Check in with Each Other' amid COVID-19

Angelina Jolie has a special message for those self-isolating amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The actress and UNHCR Special Envoy, 44, participated in a video discussion for TIME magazine with Dr. Nadine Burke Harris, California’s Surgeon General, about the risk that coronavirus poses to vulnerable children in unsafe living conditions.

Burke Harris said it was important for people to reach out to each other as states maintain stay at home orders, to which Jolie agreed.

“I think it is so important that people hear that,” Jolie said. “To love each other, check in with each other. Be there, be a support group, keep your eyes open whether you are a teacher or a friend.”

The actress added, “I really do hope people hear this, and they do reach out, and they do pay more attention, and they are not sitting in a moment when they think, ‘Well maybe, but it’s not my business.’ Because those kids aren’t going to school right now, and teachers can’t see the bruises and people aren’t identifying what is happening within some homes.”

Burke Harris responded, “All of the research shows that the single most powerful antidote to the impacts of trauma and adversity is nurturing, caring relationships with others — safe, stable and nurturing relationships.”

The surgeon general also pointed out it was important to believe victims of domestic violence, saying, “All you have to do is be there for a person. All you have to do is believe them when a victim comes forward.”

“You don’t have to fix it, you don’t have to solve it. You don’t have to worry about not being enough,” Burke Harris said. “You just have to be willing to be there and listen and to be that shoulder and those open arms.”

In her op-ed for TIME, Jolie noted that while children appear to be less susceptible to the coronavirus, they are “especially vulnerable to so many of the secondary impact of the pandemic on society.”

“Isolating a victim from family and friends is a well-known tactic of control by abusers, meaning that the social distancing that is necessary to stop COVID-19 is one that will inadvertently fuel a direct rise in trauma and suffering for vulnerable children,” Jolie wrote.

Notably, the coronavirus pandemic has “come at a time when children are deprived of the very support networks that help them cope: from their trusted friends and teachers to after-school sports activities and visits to a beloved relative’s house that provide an escape from their abusive environment,” added the Oscar winner.

The mother of six, whose oldest son, Maddox, returned home from university in South Korea, pointed out schools “are a lifeline of opportunity as well as a shield, offering protection” to children who live in violent environments.

“It’s not just that children have lost support networks,” Jolie wrote. “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.”

In March, Jolie donated $1 million to No Kid Hungry, an organization distributing meals to children who relied on school lunches.

“As of this week, over a billion children are out of school worldwide because of closures linked to coronavirus,” Jolie said in a statement. “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.”

On a worldwide scale, Jolie is working with UNESCO on the establishment of a Global Education Coalition to help children access distance learning during the period of school closures.

Parents and caregivers seeking meals for children can text the word “FOOD” (or “COMIDA”) to 877-877 to find emergency food distribution sites in their neighborhoods.

As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from CDC, WHO, and local public health departments. To help provide doctors and nurses on the front lines with life-saving medical resources, donate to Direct Relief here.

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