PHOENIX – While many children and teens at home during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a concern over child abuse cases that have not been reported.
“When vulnerable children are not in the public eye, we are always concerned,” said Mike Faust, Director of the Department of Child Safety. “Abuse and neglect have not stopped because of the pandemic.”
Many would think a return to school would mean less reports of child abuse, since children are not home as often. However, school is a place where kids who feel unsafe at home, can have an outlet, and it is where teachers can detect signs of abuse.
“Teacher are trained to look for unexpected burns, bruise, changes in behavior or mood,” said Faust.
Officials with Teen Lifeline say they have seen a big increase in cases.
“We saw a drastic increase at that point for us during summer time,” said Teen Lifeline Director Nikki Kontz.
Teen Lifeline is a crisis line where teens can call and receive counseling. Usually, about 10% to 11% of their contact would be through text messaging, but since March 2020, that number has shot up to 45%.
“This is because kids are home with their families and older siblings and how do you have a private conversation?” said Kontz.
The nonprofit has seen an increase in the number of calls during the pandemic regarding suicide, as well as family problems.
“This was a very sudden change,” said Kontz. “It can all be pushed back to anxiety, stress and uncertainty.”
Department of Child Services