Reports of Child Abuse Decrease in State, But Advocates Say Cases Are Underreported in the Pandemic
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April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month.
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There is a change in the number of child abuse cases in Mississippi, and MPB’s Alexandra Watts reports why that change is worrying child welfare advocates.

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There are certain conditions that can cause an increase in child abuse reports.

"We see child abuse rise when there are economic hardships, when there are interpersonal relationship problems…[when] there is isolation," Lea Anne Brandon, the director of communications at The Mississippi Department of Child Protection Services, said. "All three of those are present here during the COVID situation."

However, CPS is seeing a fifty percent drop in reports during this pandemic, and that worries child care advocates.

For more information on child abuse and neglect, please visit the CDC's website.

As the state has sheltered in place and schools have been closed, fewer people have been around to interact with children who could be at risk.

"Social distancing is in place and the access to external community members for children is very limited," Cynthia Chauvin, the Executive Director of CASA of Hancock County, said. "Families are generally interacting less with people outside of their homes."

These people include medical professionals, neighbors and teachers. Nationwide, most child abuse cases are reported by educators.

Chauvin believes the number of cases will increase in the future as people begin to see each other more.

Child welfare advocates and CPS are checking in from the sidewalks of homes and speaking more with foster families. Through social distancing, both are still in contact with children and families.

Anybody suspecting neglect or abuse should contact CPS over the phone or online.

Resources:

To report child abuse or neglect, call 1-800-222-8000. For other ways to contact CPS, please visit their website.

For more information, please visit Mississippi Department of Child Protection Services.

More information on CASA of Hancock County can be found here.