Nearly two years after the pandemic, and her work, began, Westhampton Beach High School senior Morgan Donahoe’s research on COVID-19 lockdowns and their effect on domestic violence has been published in a peer reviewed scientific journal.
Donahoe’s article, “Domestic violence calls for police service in five U.S. cities during the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020,” was accepted for publication in BMC Public Health following months of research conducted along with Dr. Jaymie Meliker, a professor in Stony Brook University’s public health program. The pair were linked through Donahoe’s science research teacher, Dr. Dianna Gobler at Westhampton Beach High School.
“I’m very excited,” said Donahoe. “It’s huge that I’ve become a published author before going to college.”
She began the work after asking to participate in a research project as sophomore in 2020, when COVID-19 was in full swing.
For her research, Donahoe data mined for months, sending emails and making phone calls to obtain information that she added to a detailed spreadsheet.
“It was a lot of work,” added Donahoe, who acquired emergency calls from major cities around the U.S. to see if there was a correlation between COVID-19-related stay-at-home orders, quarantine periods and domestic violence reports.
Donahoe’s paper, which was also authored by Meliker and six others, and is available to read and download online, concludes, “stay-at-home orders may have contributed to an increase in DV calls in some cities” — such as Chicago, Phoenix, New York City, and Los Angeles, but percentages were vastly different from one city to the next, some numbers didn’t change after pandemic restrictions and orders were lifted, and Philadelphia had a decrease in domestic violence calls during lockdowns.
While the results weren’t as dramatic as a researcher might want or have expected (based on the assumption domestic violence might increase during lockdowns), the methodology and work that went into the paper was sound and the breadth of it can be reviewed fully in the BMC Public Health article.
It would mark an incredible achievement for anyone to publish this, but it’s especially significant for Donahoe who was a sophomore in high school when her research began.
More importantly for Donahoe, this project has inspired her future plans. She intends to study neuroscience on a pre-med track in college.
Donahoe is an accomplished student and member of her school’s National, Math, Foreign Language and Science honor societies. She also participates in her school’s Youth to Youth club and is a volunteer officer for the Westhampton Beach Junior Ambulance.
“I am so proud of her,” Dr. Gobler said.