Suspected child abuse reports rise when school starts

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The Child Protection Center performs more forensic interviews than usual in August and September after kids head back to school.

“Teachers are an invaluable asset in the fight against child abuse,” said CPC Board President Dan Nelson. “Teachers are trained to look for instances of a child who might be exhibiting unusual behavior. Perhaps they’re sullen. Perhaps they’re withdrawn. Perhaps they’re quiet, they’re just acting abnormally. The teacher will know to go to that child and say, ‘Did something happen over the break? Is everything OK?'”

Nelson said anyone can report suspected child abuse by calling this number: 1-800-392-3738.

“There is absolutely no risk in making a call,” said Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker. “The only risk that happens if you don’t make a call is that a child really is going to be exposed to future harms.”

“It was just a few short years ago in Kansas City that a little girl’s harms were being reported,” said Peters Baker. “Children’s division workers came in and her life was saved. Her life was saved because they found her from a phone call, from someone who had suspicion. She did not know, she had suspicion.”

Nelson said CPC also sees a rise in referrals after the winter break and in April, which is Child Abuse Awareness Month.