Recently, we told you about an Associated Press article reporting that while “suspicious” child deaths have risen since the COVID-19 pandemic began, reports of suspected child abuse dropped. The presumption was that professionals with a duty to report, such as teachers, coaches, and clergy, simply were not seeing children up close and therefore were not privy to signs of abuse. Now an article published by JAMA Network confirms that reports went down at the outset of the pandemic, but indicates that individuals close to at-risk or abused children may be picking up the slack and reporting potentially dangerous situations more frequently than they did before the pandemic. Based on analysis of restricted-access from Childhelp (a national, 24-hour, multilingual hotline with a primary focus on child abuse and neglect, according to the article) there was a 13.75% increase in reports in 2020 compared with reports made in 2019. Most of the reports that came in via telephone were made by adults, while most individuals who texted in a report were minors (under 18 years of age). In line with the previous presumptions noted above, there was a decrease in calls from school personnel, but an increase in reports from landlords, relatives, and friends. This points to the need for urgent care professionals, including front office staff with exposure to the waiting room and the registration process, to be vigilant for signs of abuse. JUCM published an article that recounted how a case that included suspicion of child abuse was resolved. You can read A 5-Month-Old with Symptoms Beyond the Presenting Complaint in our archive.
Be Aware: Child Abuse Is Just as Prevalent as Ever, but May Be More Out of Sight