Social Distancing and at-home confinement present challenges for children in abusive environments.
With schools closed and in-person contact with friends and relatives limited, some kids could be searching for someone to speak to about at-home problems.
Home is not the safest place to be for everyone.
That is why daily interaction with teachers, counselors and other school staff is critical to students’ well-being.
We collected data from our 911 command center and found decreases in family/child abuse incidents reported to the command center (via 911 and non-emergency lines) in March and April.
We have heard anecdotally of a substantial decrease in the number of calls into ChildLine.
Fortunately, Lancaster County has a network of resources in place to protect our kids and families.
Our police departments have been responding to emergency and non-emergency calls throughout the pandemic – as they always have. Our police officers work hard to be recognized as part of their communities – a resource and outlet for kids and adults in abusive situations.
Our social and support services – Children & Youth, Domestic Violence Services/Community Action Partnership, YWCA (We Hear You), Crisis Intervention - have strategized with creative approaches to reach those individuals being abused. The Safe2Say and other digital reporting systems are being pushed as alternatives to speaking in person with a teacher, counselor or trusted neighbor.
Nationally, End Violence Against Children has teamed with some tech providers, including Facebook and Snapchat, to present digital outlets to those in need: https://www.end-violence.org/protecting-children-during-covid-19-outbreak#children. Our local partners are messaging with those options.
We are leaning on our community partners and trust they are working hard to find different avenues to reach those who are being abused.
Within our office, our team of victim advocates have sustained support systems they offer victims in domestic violence/child abuse cases.
We do expect a surge of reports and calls when distancing guidelines are lifted - especially when kids return to school - and are working to be prepared for that.
MEDIA CONTACT: Brett A. Hambright, 717-295-2041; firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @BrettHambright