Advocates fear child abuse isn’t being reported amid COVID-19 pandemic | #childabuse | #children | #kids

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — After a teen with Asperger syndrome was murdered, advocates say child abuse is likely not being reported during the pandemic and want families to know there are resources that can help them navigate this tough time.

According to Metro Police, Sayeed Neilson was beaten to death by his stepbrother, David Matheny. His mother, Rebecca Greenwood, did nothing to stop it according to investigators. Sayeed was described by family as a sweetheart. He was a student at McGavock High School which is still virtual.

During the pandemic, advocates are worried that child abuse is not being reported as many people are isolated in their homes. “That is the main concern. Depending on what you’re seeing, a lot of people are talking about this, how do you get eyes on children? How do we help support the parents?” Jennifer Vaida said, “Children are not in school, and so it could create a dangerous situation for children that are living in an abusive or neglectful environment, that they don’t have those other adults, that are keeping an eye on what’s happening.”

At the non-profit Nurture the Next, Jennifer Vaida dedicates her time to child abuse prevention. “Our direct home workers have really been a lifeline to families needing that increased level of support.”

They’ve seen an increase in the number of parents calling their hotline for help.

“What stood out to us the most is the complexity of the calls that we are getting. It is acute. It is ‘I need help right now,'” said Vaida.

Around Tennessee, there’s a network of non-profits who are standing by to help families in their darkest hour.

Jennifer hopes people will reach out when they’re at their wits’ end. “The most important thing is parents know that they’re not alone, there are services available in their community, there are agencies providing services for those families that are eager to help,” said Vaida.

Their hotline is 1-800-CHILDREN. A vigil is being held Monday evening for Sayeed at 6 p.m. on Topeka Drive in Hermitage.

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