WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — While children may not be the most vulnerable to COVID-19, some are incredibly vulnerable to abuse and neglect.
It’s Child Abuse Awareness month and with children home from school, nonprofits who work directly with them are trying to manage the job, remotely
Court Appointed Special Advocates are still connecting with their cases, just not face-to-face.
In Bowie, the Montague County Child Welfare Board had to cancel all their events, and the concern for these abused and neglected grows as concerns over the coronavirus grow.
Child abuse comes in all forms. Neglect, physical and emotional abuse are just a few.
“Hopefully by making people aware, they will recognize it, help us to put things in place to prevent it,” Montague County Child Welfare Board executive director Lorra Lierly said.
As more and more nonprofits and businesses close due to COVID-19 concerns, more children are left at home and advocates like volunteers for CASA have to keep their distance.
“Our volunteers, they usually make face-to-face contact with children, they’re still contacting their children, they’re still making phone calls with them, they are still FaceTiming just to see and check on them and make sure they’re safe,” CASA executive director James Bodling said.
School is often an escape from home for children who suffer abuse, but now their teachers and school faculty aren’t able to check on them as easily.
This raises concern among those who make up the Montague County Child Welfare Board
“Our numbers aren’t going up right now, but that’s probably because there are not additional people with their eyes on the kids, they’re quarantined in their homes and there’s no one else able to see them, not even family members,” Lierly said.
“More children are not out in public, or at school, that’s less reporters that if they see things they would report on,” Bodling said.
Even with less reporters in this time of crisis, teachers can still play a vital role in saving a child from abuse.
“A lot of teachers are doing online lessons, so if they are where they can have a visual of the child, if things just don’t seem quite right, if it seems like there’s something definitely wrong, then they should investigate it a little further, or they should call the hotline,” Lierly said.
April is Child Abuse Awareness Month, and this April arrives with even more meaning for those children in quarantine who have suffered, are suffering, or will suffer abuse.
Advocates said if you see or suspect something, say something.
The Texas Abuse Hotline number is 1-800-252-5400, with more options found here.
Another way to raise awareness is by wearing the color blue.