ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR) — Due to the pandemic, the number of reports of child abuse dropped last year, but as children go back to school, agencies like Children’s Trust are seeing a new trend.
“We are seeing it going up everywhere. A few weeks ago, we saw 30 referrals for forensic interviews in one week for our Christiansburg office. That’s just off the charts. It’s almost unheard of,” said Christina Hatch, executive director of Children’s Trust.
Along with the extra interviews, they’re also seeing more children being removed from their homes.
“The numbers are going up of course because we see parents — particularly in some areas — are under a lot of stress, and since children are home all the time, and add economic stress,” Hatch said, “it can turn people back to their addictions, and that’s where children become neglected and abused.”
Prevention is key when it comes to protecting children from all forms of abuse.
“The old saying now is, ‘if you see something, say something.’ Well, that’s what you gotta do,” said parent Duke Edsall. “When you suspect something, you go through the right channels and you do it the right way.”
Children’s Trust offers classes for parents, caretakers, and children to help them understand the signs of both physical and emotional abuse.
“There’s no one way to identify it. We just, if you think there’s something going on, you really just have to talk to someone,” said Hatch.
As children return to the classroom, Children’s Trust says they’re receiving more reports from teachers and other people required to report child abuse cases.
“I think it’s important to have those conversations early on as a teacher, we discuss that a lot at school,” another parent, Miranda Greear, said. “So, I think if you can get other trusted adults for your kids to speak to besides the parent, then I think that’s helpful.”
According to the American Society for the Positive Care of Children, there are 4.4 million child abuse cases in the United States. Experts say if you see signs of child abuse or neglect, you should report it.