September 18, 2020- Child Protection Center Asks for Community’s Aid in Reporting Abuse-Significant Rise in Abuse Reports Expected After Months of Isolation
The Child Protection Center (CPC) and child advocacy centers across the country are preparing for the expected increase in abuse reports as children re-enter schools and society.
“There have been a lot of children who have been at home for the past six months without their trusted safety net to help them when they were unsafe,” said Michelle McSwain, Director of CPC’s Personal Safety and Community Awareness Program. She reminds the community that we are all mandatory reporters in the state of Florida. “As we are back to being in-person with children, keep your eyes open for a child who may be in an unsafe situation.”
CPC has continued all of its services throughout the pandemic with adaptations to ensure the safety of staff, clients, and volunteers. The amount of services performed from April-July increased across every program compared to the same period last year. While abuse reports were down due to isolated children, the Child Protection Team had a simultaneous increase in intervention services, particularly with sexual abuse which had risen 13% from last year. The increase of services on fewer children shows a serious rise in critical cases.
“I think it is safe to make that correlation that when children are isolated and not around people and programs that are mandatory reporters, sexual abuse can spike and physical abuse is likely to go unreported. This emphasizes why prevention education is so important,” said Doug Staley, Executive Director of CPC.
CPC beseeches the community to be watchful for signs of abuse as children head back into school and the community at large. Indicators of abuse include: behavioral changes such as aggressiveness, passiveness, withdrawal, sexually inappropriate behaviors or knowledge, and acting abnormally adult or infantile; physical signs such as unexplained bruises or welts in various stages of healing, burns, fractures, consistent hunger, poor hygiene, fatigue, and difficulty walking or sitting. Reports can be made to the Florida Abuse Hotline at 1-800-962-2873.