Alabama child abuse and neglect reporting down during pandemic

Compared to last summer, the number of child abuse and neglect prevention reports is down in the state.

Posted: Jul 28, 2020 11:41 PM

Staying at home instead of returning to school classroom next month could put the lives of many Alabama children at risk.

Compared to last summer, the number of child abuse and neglect prevention reports is down in the state. 

It is a trend state officials credit to the coronavirus pandemic and fear could worsen as students start the school year virtually instead of in-person.

Traditionally fewer child abuse and neglect cases are reported during the summer. Between 2017 and 2019, reports in Alabama dropped an average of 25% from May to June. However, in those same years, reporting increased by 28.3% from July to August. 

"Abuse and neglect did not take a vacation during this pandemic," Commissioner of Children and Family Services, Karen Smith said.

Every year in Alabama, thousands of kids face neglect and abuse and end up in foster care. Even as the world faces a health crisis, this type of crisis has not gone away.

"It's still there, it's still prevalent, there has been a decrease in abuse and neglect reporting, that doesn't mean that it's not occurring," Smith said.

If you compare March, April, May of this year to last year, reporting has decreased by about 26%. The month of April had the least amount of reports.

"Isolating or remaining in their home, that has limited children's access to outside resources, to church to day care, to school, to baseball teams, to coaches, the extracurricular activities they usually participated in," Smith said.

Smith is also concerned about this upcoming school year. Educators are among the list of mandated reporters, and with some districts choosing to start the year with remote learning, that could mean less reporting.

"You have bus drivers, you also have the janitorial staff, the lunchroom staff," Smith said. "It goes beyond in a school setting just teachers."

However, anyone can report neglect or abuse. Some things to look out for are drastic mood changes in a child or a decrease in hygiene.

"Just looking at the overall picture, has this child changed?" Smith said.  WAAY31 reached out to all three school districts in Madison County to see if they are talking with teachers about how to spot neglect or abuse during the first nine weeks of virtual learning those systems have planned.  Huntsville City Schools released this statement:

"Huntsville City Schools remains committed to providing holistic services that meet the academic, social, and emotional needs of our students. The HCS Student Welfare and Social Services Department will continue to serve as a liaison between students, their families, and local social service agencies. Social workers will continue to provide wraparound services for students and families in addition to serving as a hub for any concerns. Supporting the overall well-being of students and families will remain a top priority."

For more information on reporting and child services in Alabama, click here.

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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 100801

Reported Deaths: 1814
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson13366246
Mobile10581212
Montgomery6825151
Madison546934
Tuscaloosa426979
Unassigned392566
Baldwin367029
Shelby333437
Marshall319438
Lee270847
Morgan241819
Etowah218034
DeKalb183414
Calhoun181918
Elmore176039
Walker154465
Houston142813
Russell13892
St. Clair136320
Limestone135913
Dallas133624
Franklin129722
Cullman123012
Colbert121517
Lauderdale119020
Autauga116222
Escambia108817
Talladega105414
Jackson10264
Tallapoosa87579
Chambers84738
Dale84329
Clarke82610
Chilton8189
Blount8165
Butler77036
Coffee7656
Covington74021
Pike7137
Marion58226
Barbour5796
Lowndes57124
Marengo56616
Hale48526
Bullock48111
Winston45711
Perry4454
Bibb4445
Washington44412
Wilcox43410
Monroe4236
Pickens4089
Randolph40211
Conecuh39310
Sumter36618
Lawrence3542
Macon33914
Crenshaw3326
Choctaw28912
Cherokee2768
Clay2675
Geneva2652
Henry2643
Greene25211
Lamar2302
Fayette2235
Cleburne1291
Coosa1053
Out of AL00

Tennessee Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 124915

Reported Deaths: 1271
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Shelby23625314
Davidson20865219
Rutherford662955
Hamilton631555
Knox475040
Williamson360725
Sumner347373
Unassigned31173
Out of TN295216
Wilson233923
Bradley199115
Montgomery198614
Sevier19029
Putnam180018
Trousdale15836
Robertson157820
Hamblen142016
Blount132412
Washington12912
Maury12847
Tipton121710
Madison118920
Sullivan104815
Hardeman94218
Bedford93011
Macon86713
Lake7940
Loudon7543
Gibson7357
Bledsoe7162
Dickson7052
Fayette7048
Anderson6986
Dyer6688
Henderson6133
Cheatham6018
Obion5884
Jefferson5874
Lawrence5847
McMinn55920
Coffee5583
Rhea5442
Warren5404
Carter5326
Lauderdale5229
Haywood5107
Greene5049
Roane4882
Hawkins4859
Cocke4824
Weakley4824
Hardin4798
Cumberland4636
Smith4584
Monroe4519
McNairy3886
Giles38713
DeKalb3662
Franklin3384
Carroll3303
Lincoln3151
Marshall3054
Henry2990
White2945
Johnson2880
Claiborne2770
Crockett2745
Hickman2720
Campbell2541
Wayne2292
Marion2285
Chester2252
Decatur2153
Polk2133
Overton2091
Grainger2040
Unicoi1680
Union1620
Benton1581
Cannon1540
Jackson1301
Humphreys1293
Morgan1271
Scott1241
Grundy1182
Sequatchie1131
Meigs1080
Fentress960
Hancock812
Perry810
Stewart790
Clay790
Lewis741
Houston610
Moore600
Pickett391
Van Buren360

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