YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Local children’s services centers say kids are more at risk for abuse and neglect now because of the pandemic. With children out of school, reporting abuse is now up to the public more than ever before.
“These are uncertain times for a lot of people. Kids are at home. Parents are facing anxiousness, fears, financial situations,” said Jennifer Kollar, Mahoning County Children Services.
Kollar said that combination could be the perfect storm for child abuse.
Even though their office has been getting fewer calls over the last month, she said that doesn’t mean abuse has decreased.
“That’s because our mandated reporters are not in the school systems. So, our reports are not as many coming in but we are still getting them and we’re reacting to them,” Kollar said.
She said recent reports have now been thanks to neighbors and relatives calling.
On Tuesday, Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown joined 23 U.S senators in writing a letter about the risks of domestic violence under stay-at-home orders.
It expresses concern for the well-being of families who face an increased risk of domestic violence during the COVID-19 outbreak.
They ask for important organizations that help victims and survivors of domestic violence to have the resources and information needed to continue to provide these critical services during the pandemic.
Wednesday, April 1, begins National Child Abuse Awareness Month.
To help reduce the problem, Kollar put together a list of activities for families stuck inside. She’s also passing out books for people to educate themselves.
“So I really urge people to, if you don’t know the signs of child abuse and neglect, familiarize yourself with it. It’s a good activity to learn more about it, how to report it,” she said.
To report suspicions of child abuse or neglect, call your local child protective services office or the police. All hotlines are open 24/7.
- Mahoning County Children Services in Youngstown, OH: 330-941-8888
- Trumbull County Children Services in Warren, OH: 330-372-2010
- Columbiana County Department of Job & Family Services in Lisbon, OH: 330-420-6600
- Mercer County Children & Youth Services in Mercer, PA: 1-800-932-0313