“Although documented incidents of child abuse have fallen dramatically since the coronavirus outbreak began, we know it doesn’t mean crimes against young people have actually declined,” said Mason. “It’s much more likely that COVID-19 school closures have made it so mandated reporters—people who are legally required to notify the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services if they suspect a young person is in danger—have fewer opportunities to identify signs of abuse.”
According to 2018 data from the U.S. Children’s Bureau, the majority of child abuse claims are made by school employees. Information gathered by the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services shows that a young person reaches out for help to an average of seven adults before a report is filed with the department. To report an incident of child abuse or neglect, please contact Illinois’ 24-hour Child Abuse Hotline at 800-252-2873.
“With many victims now physically stuck inside of unsafe homes due to the coronavirus pandemic, Child Abuse Prevention Month could not have come at a more appropriate time,” said Mason. “Our kids are counting on us to report dangerous circumstances when we see them, so if you notice a young person who might be in harm’s way, please contact the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services immediately.”
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