The current health crisis has changed our lives. Children are restricted to their homes, often without access to the people trained to protect them from abuse and neglect. And for some children, home is very dangerous. Yet, many do not know that one of the most serious impacts of quarantine is the significant decrease in reports of child abuse and neglect.
This decrease in calls does not mean a decrease in abuse, in fact, the opposite is true. Protective adults who interact with children most often – educators, school counselors, coaches, and mentors – are not seeing students regularly in order to observe the signs of abuse.
The Beau Biden Foundation is currently working with schools and youth-serving organizations to train as many frontline professionals as possible to recognize abuse and neglect through a webcam. But in the absence of these folks making the reports, we must ask ourselves; “who are the new reporters?”
The answer: all of us.
Be on the look-out for indicators of child abuse, neglect, or dependency such as:
Hearing threats of violence directed at a child
Observing injury to a child
A child who appears malnourished
A household without essential utilities
A child who is in need of medical attention
A child asking for help or clues that lead you to suspect abuse or neglect
Hearing a caregiver repeatedly degrading or humiliating a child
Any sexual act between a caregiver and a child
Consumption of alcohol or illicit drugs by a child
Every adult has a moral responsibility, and in most states, a legal responsibility to report reasonable suspicion of child abuse or neglect. Without educators, coaches, medical personnel, mentors, and other professionals looking after children, we urge you to be the most valued adult.