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Less Help for Child Abuse

Less Help for Child Abuse

Experts warned that closing schools during the novel coronavirus pandemic meant more child abuse would go undetected. A new survey shows that children’s advocacy centers that work with victims who were referred by law enforcement and other government agencies served 40,000 fewer children in the first half of the year than during the same period last year, appearing to confirm those fears.

“What we were dreading did in fact happen,” said Teresa Huizar, executive director of the National Children’s Alliance.

Since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, advocates and educators have warned that the closures of schools would make it terrifyingly difficult to keep a watchful eye on children who are being abused.

Child abuse reports began to plummet across the country — not because it wasn’t happening, but because teachers, doctors and others had fewer ways of catching it. Now, a new survey of children’s advocacy centers across the country offers some of the clearest data yet on the scope of this gap in child abuse reporting.

The centers, which provide support for families and children as abuse cases move through the justice system, reported serving 40,000 fewer children nationwide between January and June of this year than the same period last year, from 192,367 children in 2019 down to 152,016 this year, a 21 percent drop, according to the National Children’s Alliance, an accrediting body for a network of 900 children’s advocacy centers.

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