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Cases Of Child Abuse And Neglect Expected To Rise Due To Coronavirus

A child rides a scooter past barricades at the entrance of a park, which was closed to vehicular traffic to help encourage social distancing to slow the spread of coronavirus.
Jeff Roberson
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

Cases of child abuse and neglect are expected to rise in the coming weeks and months due to the coronavirus.

Cook Children’s Hospital in Fort Worth, Texas has already reported a spike,  as reported by Newsweek

There haven’t been any noticeable changes locally, according to Kymberly Cook, COO of the statewide child welfare organization  (CHS). But, she said, it may just be a matter of time.

“Prior to the virus, nearly 75% of kids in foster care were there because of neglect. That is stemming from fixable family issues: untreated mental health challenges, lack of parental support or role models, and lack of access to medical care, affordable groceries, and childcare," she said. 

But now families are stuck at home, parents or guardians are losing their jobs or getting furloughed, and essential goods and services are becoming harder and harder to come by, pushing more families toward a crisis point.

Cook said the best way to stop child abuse and neglect before it happens is to get families the help they need and keep them from losing hope.

CHS has been getting more calls from families looking for help recently, and to meet that growing demand and maintain appropriate social distancing, the organization’s counselors, parent coaches, and mentors are making themselves available virtually.

Related:  Local, State, And National Coronavirus Coverage

CHS is also putting together  resource guides for families which include info on getting internet access, mental health and health care, and tutoring.

When situations deteriorate to the point that abuse or neglect is happening, Cook said it’s important for friends and family to call the abuse hotline: 1-800-96-ABUSE. 

“What we tell people is if you suspect or see child abuse or neglect, go ahead and make the call,” she said. “Reach out at the first sign of crisis.”

But as  National Child Abuse Prevention Month kicks off, Cook says the most important thing for children and families to remember is that help is available.

“If you're feeling overwhelmed, helpless, scared, in need of services, please reach out. Reach out to a community provider who can help find the services that families need. For instance, at CHS we have an online referral for our counseling and mental health services. So they can reach out online through their phone or through their computer and make a referral immediately, and someone will reach out to start telehealth services. So there are services that folks can access fairly quickly,” she said.

To sign up for counseling with CHS or to refer a friend or family member, click here. More information on CHS's telehealth online counseling can be found here.

Brendan Rivers can be reached at, 904-358-6396 or on Twitter at @BrendanRivers.

Copyright 2020 WJCT News 89.9. To see more, visit .

Brendan Rivers comes to WJCT News with years of experience reporting and hosting news for several stations in the Daytona Beach area.