Sacramento County officials say they’ve seen a sharp decline in reports of child abuse, and it’s likely a side effect of the pandemic.
Tips to the Child Protective Services hotline decreased almost 50% in April and May, compared to the same months last year.
Michelle Callejas, Director of the Sacramento County Department of Child, Family and Adult Services attributes the decline to one thing: “Fewer eyes on kids.”
Children haven’t been going to the usual places where abuse allegations are reported from, such as school, day care centers, or medical offices.
At the same, the agency says there haven’t been troubling signs of violence against children popping up elsewhere in the community, such as more battered children showing up in emergency rooms.
But Callejas says they might start to see more evidence of abuse, especially as public life goes back to normal again.
“Child welfare agencies will be discovering and watching very closely as we move out of this.”
DeAngelo Mack, state policy director at Public Health Advocates, says families are focused on other problems right now, such as food and housing security, job loss, racism and police brutality. He hopes the decline in abuse reports means families are coalescing to solve problems.
“[I’m] definitely worried about the outcome of when things return, what will be reported then,” he said. “But [I’m] hoping that the numbers are low because families are really working together.”
Both Callejas and Mack call on community members to watch out for the wellbeing of kids while they’re out of school.
Sacramento County’s Child Abuse Hotline is (916) 875-5437 (875-KIDS).
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