EL DORADO, Ark. (04/21/20)– Children may be safe from catching the coronavirus by staying at home but some of them may still be fighting a difficult battle.
“From January to now the number of calls made to the hotline for child abuse is up but since the pandemic and school has been out the calls have drastically reduced,” Executive Director of South Arkansas Children’s Coalition, Robin Krneta said.
While the world is going through a pandemic, it’s also important to note that it’s Child Abuse Awareness month.
Governor Asa Hutchinson allowed his wife, Susan Hutchinson and Mischa Martin, director of the state’s division of children and family services to speak during Monday afternoon’s press conference.
“Life goes on with or without the coronavirus,” Hutchinson said. “This is also and has been since 1983 Child Abuse Awareness and Prevention month. We’re not having big fundraisers. We’re not having rallies but we still want to bring attention to it.”
South Arkansas Children’s Coalition says they have ramped up posts on their social media sites to offer guidance and tips on how to spot child abuse but it’s something they can’t do alone.
Krenta believes the decrease in calls during the pandemic is related to children not being surrounded by those professionals that would normally report the abuse.
“It’s scary to think about the children that people aren’t being able to lay eyes on right now,” Krenta said.
That’s why they’re calling for teachers, church leaders and family members to be vigilant even though they have to remain apart because of social distancing guidelines.
“If you’re on a Facetime call or Skype just be mindful. Be aware,” she said. “A change in behavior is a red flag.”
It may not necessarily indicate child abuse but it should prompt you to ask certain questions about what’s going on.
Krneta understands that some parents may be at a heightened stress level during these uncertain times. She advises those parents and caregivers to just take a step back when needed.
“Take some deep breaths and give yourself some time out and know that this too shall pass,” she said. “Right now, there’s a lot of stress and a lot of unknowns and it can cause you to react in ways that you may normally not.
“Remember, what you do now can have a lasting impact on your child.”
S.A.C.C continues to stay in touch with their clients via Facetime and other video methods. However, when there is a situation that needs further investigation, the counselors will go to the house, interview the child and the family.
If you do come in contact with children and see something suspicious call the Child Abuse Hotline number at 1-844-SAVE-A-CHILD. You don’t have to have proof neither do you have to investigate it. You just have to report it.