LITTLE ROCK – While home is a safe place for many Arkansans seeking protection from the spread of COVID-19, it can be a dangerous place for children who are victims of abuse.
Most child abuse experts agree that once the COVID-19 crisis passes, reported child abuse cases are likely to surge.
“During times of isolation, child abuse happens in secrecy because signs of abuse go undetected when children are not seen regularly by others,” said Elizabeth Pulley, director of Children’s Advocacy Centers of Arkansas. “When school starts back, we expect the number of cases to rise.”
April is Child Abuse Prevention Month, a time to place a special emphasis on increasing awareness and providing education and support to families to help prevent child abuse and neglect. Sunday, April 26, has been set aside as a National Day of Prayer to pray for child abuse victims.
“In a time such as this, we encourage adults to be especially attentive to children when they see them and look for tell-tale signs of abuse and neglect such as withdrawal, changes in behavior, depression or an apparent lack of supervision,” Pulley said.
Children’s Advocacy Centers of Arkansas, with 17 centers located across the state, provide a safe place for children and families to receive services for healing. Even during the COVID-19 crisis, centers remain open and are continuing to serve children in person and through telemedicine.
“Child abuse doesn’t take a day off and, in fact, likely increases when children are mostly confined to the home, oftentimes with their abusers,” said Pulley.
To report suspected child abuse or neglect, call the Arkansas Child Abuse hotline at 1.844.SAVE.A.CHILD or 1.800.482.5964. To locate a Child Advocacy Center near you, visit www.cacarkansas.org.