Child Abuse Referrals Down as Social Distancing Orders Keep ‘Mandated Reporters’ from Kids

Written by on April 22, 2020

Child Abuse Referrals Down as Social Distancing Orders Keep ‘Mandated Reporters’ from Kids

By Chloe Nouvelle

April 22, 2020

Medical experts say children are less at risk of falling ill with COVID-19, but as WLVR’s Chloe Nouvelle reports, social distancing orders are making it harder than ever to keep tabs on kids at risk of child abuse in the Lehigh Valley. 

Northampton County has seen a 50 percent drop in child abuse reports, a trend that’s playing out statewide as well.

Valley Youth House provides shelter and support for abused and homeless youth. Program Supervisor Michael Ramsey says reports fall when mandated reporters like teachers and doctors don’t have face-to-face contact with kids.

“Child abuse is still happening. But the people that are observing and, you know, can make those reports don’t have the same access,” said Ramsey.

Meanwhile, risk factors for abuse — including joblessness, food insecurity and stress — are increasing.

Julie Bator is the Assistant Administrator for the Northampton County Division of Children, Youth and Family. She says the county is still making home visits to at-risk families to follow up on reports – but she says even virtual check-ins with teachers or others can help spot problems. 

“Ask simple questions like, ‘hey…what’s your favorite meal since you’ve been home now?’ Making sure they’re eating. Making sure somebody is watching them like, ‘are your parents still working?’ ‘Who’s babysitting?’”

Bator says her office is open and ready to help families with resources like food stamps and unemployment applications.

The state’s child abuse hotline – or ChildLine – is 1-800-932-0313. Valley Youth House also remains open at this time.

Watch Chloe’s PBS39 News Tonight Report.


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