SAN DIGEO (KGTV) - The number of calls to San Diego County’s Child Abuse Hotline has dropped by more than half since schools across the region closed to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease.
County data provided to 10News shows a more than 50 percent decrease in calls regarding allegations of child abuse or neglect.
According to the county, for the week of March 9 to 15, there were 1,859 calls. A week later, when schools closed beginning March 16 to 22, there were only 863 calls.
“In normal times, I would be thrilled, but this isn’t a good news story,” said Sheila Boxley, who’s the president of the Child Abuse Prevention Center. “This is something of grave concern because we know that children are now not in school, they are not in childcare. They are not in places where there are other adults who can see them and know how they are doing.”
Boxley said this is a very vulnerable time for children. She points to stress at home, where people are worried about staying healthy and about keeping their job.
She also said many of the most common mandated reporters are teachers and childcare providers who are no longer around the children.
“It’s really serious, I’m very concerned,” Boxley said. “People in the field are very concerned. We know that this is not appropriate, that the numbers are going down.”
San Diego County data through March 22 shows the total number of calls to the hotline at 4,577. In March of 2019, there were 5,844 calls.
County officials told 10News not to draw hard conclusions from the numbers, saying it’s too soon to fully understand how the recent changes have impacted child abuse reporting.
County officials said the Child Welfare Services Child Abuse Hotline continues to operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week in order to take reports of child abuse and neglect.
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A spokesperson told 10News, “We are closely monitoring call volume. Community members and mandated reporters should continue to report any suspected child abuse and neglect. CWS investigations are an essential function and CWS continues to investigate reports of alleged child maltreatment.”
For more information, or to report suspected child abuse, call 858-560-2191. Within the State of California you may call toll free 1-800-344-6000.