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Child abuse centers have helped 40,000 fewer kids during pandemic

Posted at 6:07 PM, Aug 21, 2020

National Children's Alliance surveyed child advocacy centers across the country; preliminary reports find 40,000 fewer children were served nationwide between January and June 2020 compared to 2019; a 21-percent decrease.

Project Harmony says we saw a similar trend locally.

“Once schools closed in April and May,” Gene Klein, Project Harmony Executive Director, said. “Those tend to be high months for reporting abuse and neglect, the numbers dropped significantly here in Nebraska and here in Omaha.”

Experts don't think there was less child abuse rather fewer reports of it.

“This has been a horrific process for all of us,” Klein said. “And if you are a family who has lost a job, maybe you’re lacking resources and supports, that effects children, that effects the children that are living in homes.”

Schools are the number one reporter of child abuse Klein said, and with kids out of school for so long, in isolation, teachers and doctors had fewer ways of catching it.

“We’re waiting honestly for that surge to come once kids are back into that safe place and can share what’s going on at home,” Klein said.

We're already seeing the calls pick up in Nebraska.

Klein said this spring calls to Child Protective Services averaged in the low 100's a day. Typically, they take 300 calls a day and we're getting close to that again.

“If you have family members you’re worried about,” Klein said, “make sure you are reaching out and connecting to those children. Make sure they know there is someone who could protect them if something is happening.”

In Nebraska, everyone is a mandatory reporter.

If you suspect a child has been abused or neglected call the CPS Hotline or local law enforcement.

Nebraska: 1-800-652-1999 (CPS Hotline)
Iowa: 1-800-362-2178 (DHS Hotline)

NCA's survey breaks down the difference in cases served last year vs. this year even further.

Gender of children:
Male 25% decrease in 2020
Female 23% decrease
Undisclosed 101% increase

Race of total children seen at CAC:
White 24% decrease in 2020
Black/African American 30% decrease
Hispanic/Latino 26% decrease
American Indian/Alaska Native 7% decrease
Asian/Pacific Islander 28% decrease
Other 22% decrease
Undisclosed 25% increase

Total number of alleged offenders:
149,279 in 2019
117,707 in 2020