TRUMBULL COUNTY, Ohio (WKBN) – April is childhood abuse prevention month and experts want you to remember if you see something, say something.
Throughout the pandemic, reports of child abuse have decreased.
However, experts believe actual occurrences of child abuse and neglect are up.
As the pandemic hit, many schools chose to go online. Teachers are mandatory reporters; if they see something they think is child abuse or neglect, they have to report it.
Teachers simply weren’t able to see the kids because online attendance can be spotty. They weren’t able to look close enough for signs of neglect.
Other mandatory reporters weren’t laying their eyes on kids either. Reports of child abuse and neglect plummeted to almost half.
But experts say when times are stressful, people are more likely to act out and abuse a child, spouse or animal.
“There are less adult eye on kids. Our referrals go down and our early identification of kids in dangerous situations goes down and when we do discover it, it’s often more serious,” said Tim Schaffner, Trumbull County Children Services.
Many would think that reports of child abuse being up would be bad, but in the case of COVID-19, reporting went down while instances of child abuse were suspected to be higher.
Now that more vaccinated people are returning to a pre-pandemic way of life, more mandatory reporters or adults outside of the child’s family are seeing children.
Now they’re able to report signs of abuse. The number of reports child abuse have not gone back to the same frequency compared to before COVID-19.
But experts say an increase in reporting could actually be a good thing because it can alert child services earlier in the abuse.
“In Feburary of this year, we were at 133. So we went from normal then went way down, almost to half, and then gradually if you look at our whole series of numbers, you’ll see it’s gradually going up.,” said Schaffner. “It helped with school starting in the fall.”
Remember: if you see something, say something.