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 11:09 PM
Updated: 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: 102196

Reported Deaths: 1825
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson13682262
Mobile10836223
Montgomery7009153
Madison558135
Tuscaloosa437880
Unassigned411368
Baldwin379129
Shelby341437
Marshall321438
Lee273547
Morgan245720
Etowah221934
DeKalb187014
Calhoun186719
Elmore178939
Walker158466
Houston149313
Limestone140713
Russell13982
St. Clair138820
Dallas134925
Franklin131522
Cullman125212
Colbert124318
Lauderdale121920
Autauga119622
Talladega110314
Escambia109917
Jackson10914
Tallapoosa88379
Dale86329
Chambers85238
Blount8485
Chilton8439
Clarke83010
Coffee7926
Butler77936
Covington76321
Pike7187
Marion59426
Barbour5906
Marengo57817
Lowndes57624
Bullock49411
Hale49026
Bibb4655
Washington46113
Winston45911
Perry4524
Wilcox44510
Monroe4276
Pickens42010
Randolph40511
Conecuh39810
Sumter37119
Lawrence3643
Macon34415
Crenshaw3398
Cherokee2938
Choctaw29212
Clay2785
Geneva2742
Henry2733
Greene25611
Lamar2372
Fayette2345
Cleburne1311
Coosa1063
Out of AL00

Tennessee Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 130458

Reported Deaths: 1326
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Shelby24251321
Davidson21528221
Rutherford693857
Hamilton660558
Knox505141
Williamson374125
Sumner358174
Unassigned31223
Out of TN299320
Wilson243423
Bradley210215
Montgomery208515
Sevier19899
Putnam193220
Robertson161621
Trousdale15836
Hamblen147615
Blount141415
Washington13912
Maury13679
Madison128223
Tipton124712
Sullivan113616
Hardeman102718
Bedford96211
Macon87413
Lake8000
Loudon7883
Gibson7879
Dickson7574
Fayette7448
Anderson7437
Bledsoe7342
Dyer7159
Henderson6612
Jefferson6394
Obion6394
Cheatham6249
Lawrence6197
Carter6026
Coffee5943
McMinn59120
Warren5874
Haywood5817
Rhea5742
Greene5619
Weakley5575
Lauderdale5529
Hawkins53410
Cumberland5307
Cocke5255
Roane5162
Hardin4998
Monroe47910
Smith4764
McNairy4106
Giles40213
DeKalb3842
Carroll3796
Franklin3634
Marshall3364
Lincoln3351
White3275
Johnson3190
Henry3161
Claiborne3010
Crockett2946
Hickman2921
Campbell2641
Chester2512
Overton2501
Marion2405
Polk2375
Decatur2343
Wayne2322
Grainger2171
Unicoi1800
Benton1791
Union1700
Cannon1600
Jackson1451
Humphreys1353
Morgan1351
Scott1342
Grundy1262
Sequatchie1171
Meigs1150
Fentress1060
Clay860
Perry860
Hancock842
Lewis811
Stewart810
Moore740
Houston630
Van Buren430
Pickett401

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