OTTAWA -- With many people at home because of the COVID-19 pandemic, some are concerned the isolation could lead to more abuse of women and children.

“As we’re all being told to stay home, which of course we have to, we have to remember that home is actually not a safe place for some kids,” Dr. Michelle Ward told CTV News Ottawa’s Stefan Keyes.

Dr. Ward, a pediatrician and the director of clinics with CHEO’s Child and Youth Protection Program, said many families she has worked with are already living at the edge of their resources.

Along with the added financial stress of the economy drastically slowing because of the coronavirus, they may be struggling with mental health issues, addictions or other strains.

“Now, on top of that, they have the children at home full time…they may have additional financial difficulties,” she said. “We know that stress like this, unfortunately, leads to more bad things happening in the home. People just don’t have the coping mechanisms to deal with that amount of strain.”

The Ottawa Police Service has issued a call for people to remain vigilant for potential abuse in their communities.

Police say domestic abuse victims are potentially not attending hospitals or clinics for their injuries, so their cases that would normally come from the health care system are not being reported.

Community resources for victims of sexual assault and information from the partner abuse section can be found on the Ottawa Police website.

Dr. Ward suggests people keep an eye out for kids or families who may be struggling.

“That can be as simple as saying something like ‘It must be really hard to you to be at home with your kids all day, is there anything I can do to help?”

Anyone who sees anything suspicious should report it to the Children’s Aid Society or Ottawa Police.