According to the Dallas Children’s Advocacy Center (DCAC), child abuse and neglect reports are down 43% across North Texas.
“We saw a significant decrease in the number of reports being made which concerns us because normally this time of year or reports are pretty consistent,” DCAC president Lynn Davis said.
Davis said this is likely a symptom of children being out of schools and daycares for months due to COVID-19 closures.
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“It’s an indicator of child abuse not being recognized by adults out there,” Davis said. “Normally, during a school year, the bulk of our referrals come through the local school systems and when caring adults aren’t there to recognize that something is going on in a child’s life or there is not an adult that a child trusts, it’s tough to get these reports made.”
DCAC and similar organizations are asking church members, community leaders and neighbors to help them spot children in crisis.
“Keep your eyes and ears open. If you hear something or your children tell you something about a friend of theirs and if something doesn’t sit right in your stomach, make a report,” Davis said. “In the state of Texas, you don’t have to know 100% that abuse is going on, you just have to suspect it.”
DCAC is working on a plan to keep children safe in the upcoming school year that will likely see a hybrid of online learning and traditional classroom life.
“We are starting to put or heads together to try to figure out how we can get to these children and how we can get to the school districts,” Davis said.
Davis said at least on North Texas school district has already come up with a plan to check up on students while learning online.
“When you call a child or when you have them online with you – ask them how they are feeling that day and ask them if they feel safe in their home,” Davis said. “It’s two simple questions that a teacher can ask and sometimes they will get a response they are not expecting.”
If you know or suspect that a child is being abused, please contact Child Protective Services at 800-252-5400. You may also make a report online at www.txabusehotline.org or call 911.