The Investigators: Food, grocery delivery drivers report child abuse as schools, churches close

Calls into child abuse hotlines continue to plummet

The Investigators: Food, grocery delivery drivers report child abuse as schools, churches close

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - The risk for child abuse in the Mid-South has increased as families isolate during the COVID-19 pandemic. Meanwhile, calls into child abuse hotlines continue to plummet.

There are those who are reporting abuse like never before, including delivery drivers.

"The people who typically report child abuse and neglect are not seeing kids, " said Kristen Davis with Prevent Child Abuse Tennessee. “People who would normally be interacting with kids like coaches or faith leaders are just not seeing kids right now.”

The Tennessee Department of Children’s Services reports that there were 9,232 calls into the child abuse hotline from March 1-April 6, 2020.

That’s a 25.44% decrease from March 1-April 6, 2020 when there were 12,382 calls.

“Those decreased calls does not indicate that there’s decreased need for help, assistance and resources,” said Davis.

Prevent Child Abuse Tennessee usually provides in-home support but is now offering virtual visits, while its hotlines and Mommy Mentor program remain available.

Darkness To Light is offering free, online training for anyone. The non-profit educates adults on child sexual abuse prevention.

“The training is to try and help the safe adult in a child’s life put a plan in place to be able to protect the kid while they are in quarantine, potentially, with their abuser,” said Katelyn Brewer, President of Darkness to Light.

Brewer said she’s seeing others step up, too.

Folks working in food and grocery delivery services have been reporting potential child abuse while kids are home.

“How amazing that in times of need, people who you just don’t even think about being a safeguard or active bystander are out there protecting kids,” she said.

Still, calls into child abuse hotlines - like the one in Mississippi - are down.

The Mississippi Department of Child Protection Services reports that there were 716 calls into its child abuse hotline while school was in session from March 2-March 6.

There were 310 calls into the hotline from March 23-March 27, after schools were closed.

“We can still take care of each other as a community and we can still make ourselves available to people even if we can’t do it face to face," said Davis.

Everyone in Mississippi and Tennessee is required to report suspected child abuse to the state’s child protection agency. In Arkansas, only certain people are required to report child abuse under state law. Find information about mandated reporters at the following link.

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