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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: 136055

Reported Deaths: 2364
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson19752350
Mobile13449292
Montgomery8852184
Tuscaloosa8654118
Madison792778
Shelby601349
Lee592760
Baldwin552650
Marshall396143
Calhoun353444
Etowah352145
Morgan331428
Houston292021
Elmore267348
DeKalb243221
St. Clair233036
Walker231984
Talladega217129
Limestone211920
Cullman190720
Dallas179126
Franklin178129
Autauga177325
Russell17633
Lauderdale172333
Colbert166626
Blount161715
Escambia161124
Chilton158830
Jackson158111
Covington140327
Dale139244
Coffee13596
Pike120510
Chambers116842
Tallapoosa116485
Clarke110016
Marion96829
Butler91339
Barbour8857
Winston74512
Marengo72420
Pickens66614
Bibb65610
Lowndes65427
Randolph65413
Hale64428
Geneva6344
Lawrence62123
Cherokee61213
Bullock60614
Monroe5908
Clay5878
Washington55913
Perry5416
Crenshaw54032
Conecuh53611
Wilcox53211
Henry5075
Macon48318
Fayette4628
Sumter43819
Cleburne3825
Lamar3702
Choctaw35112
Greene30315
Coosa1723
Out of AL00
Unassigned00

Tennessee Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 192995

Reported Deaths: 2377
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Shelby30953459
Davidson26630306
Hamilton951995
Knox949779
Rutherford936189
Williamson531036
Sumner486598
Wilson351945
Putnam334940
Montgomery311144
Unassigned30425
Out of TN298627
Bradley296217
Madison292164
Sevier263815
Blount253524
Maury240924
Washington232836
Robertson222535
Sullivan219733
Hamblen193926
Tipton183219
Gibson170423
Trousdale16667
Hardeman158226
Wayne14995
Dyer138714
Bedford136417
Dickson127415
Coffee125413
Cumberland121718
Weakley120519
Fayette120419
Anderson120013
Obion119110
Henderson118924
Loudon11846
Carter117728
Greene116144
McMinn114625
Jefferson113014
Warren10757
Lawrence106713
Macon106721
Monroe105218
Hardin104716
Lauderdale99416
Haywood99221
Franklin9899
Lake9252
Roane9055
Carroll89920
McNairy89618
Bledsoe8624
White8479
Rhea84412
Hawkins82218
Cheatham81510
Marshall7785
Overton7586
Cocke7549
Smith73111
Johnson7262
Chester64310
Giles63117
Henry6289
Lincoln6241
Hickman5938
DeKalb57014
Crockett54219
Marion5338
Decatur5307
Fentress5263
Campbell4544
Claiborne4425
Polk39910
Grainger3863
Union3642
Benton3379
Jackson3315
Morgan3203
Grundy3095
Cannon2920
Unicoi2891
Humphreys2583
Sequatchie2381
Clay2335
Meigs2283
Houston2243
Scott2172
Stewart2142
Lewis2041
Moore1791
Van Buren1660
Perry1530
Pickett1232
Hancock1083

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