COVID-19 hides the number for child abuse

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It is National Child Abuse Awareness month. Wednesday is the Day of Hope. It is named for the organization, Childhelp. The day is to remember children who have been abused. The numbers for child abuse have seemingly plummeted but that may be due to a lack of reporting and because kids are out of the public eye due to the pandemic restrictions. The people who normally are on the front lines to spot the abuse can’t see it.

Kids are not in school and so teachers who are tasked with looking for abuse, can’t detect it on zoom calls. Kristen Douglas, the Chief of Government Relations of Childhelp, talked with us about numbers, how we can help, and what’s being done.

She said there is tons of great legislation out there. She explained some of them. She said a lot of these pieces of legislation keep getting “kicked” because of the lack of funding. Reports of child abuse are down, but that is not a clear picture because of the pandemic. Douglas said the hotlines that are down right now are state hotlines that mandated reporters used to report child abuse. The problem is there are no mandated reporters around children right now.

Childhelp runs in facilitates a national child abuse hotline. Their hotline numbers are up significantly. She said while other hotlines are dropping, theirs are rising significantly. They are working with Arizona senators and House members and asking them to work on getting more funding for the Child Abuse Hotline so that they can meet the needs of those children.

She said never assume that someone else is going to report it. She explains that if you get that “gut feeling” call the hotline, 1-800-4-A-CHILD. She said they are that first-line defense for kids that need help. She explains they are there to serve the community.

We ask if she is optimistic that more help is on the way. Douglas said she is. She said the political will is there but what concerns her is that it is very easy for it to slip away with all of the other big picture items that the country is facing right now. She said it is important to call your members of Congress and be a “voice for the voiceless.”

Kristen Douglas, Chief of Government Relations, Childhelp

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