Child advocacy centers are more concerned than ever about abuse and neglect with children home. Kristi House is a non-profit group dedicated to ending child abuse. Its CEO, Amanda Altman, spoke to NBC 6 Anchor Sheli Muñiz.
SHELI: An NBC News analysis found that reports have dropped across the country by about 40%. Does this mean the pandemic is hiding secrets?
AMANDA: That is our fear, of course, that just because the reporting is down, doesn't mean that the incidents are down. We know that about 40% of sexual abuse incidents are reported by school personnel. It might be a teacher or a counselor and right now, as kids are not in school and at home that leads to a decrease in reporting.
SHELI: With school districts starting virtually, what are the concerns? More of the same?
AMANDA: We are very concerned that because teachers and other personnel won't have eyes on these children, that again there is going to be an underreporting of the abuse. It's also really concerning because with children home all the time, there's a good chance they might be at home with an abuser and they don't have access or feel like they don't have access. Also, parents are under a lot of stress right now.
SHELI: Without those extra eyes, how can we prevent this if we can’t intervene?
AMANDA: At Kristi House, we really want to focus on prevention education for our parents and I know parents are under a lot of stress right now, but they need to be paying close attention to what they're kids are doing online. They need to be sure they have the strictest possible protections on computers, they need to be watching what kids are doing on their apps and games. They need to engage in these same virtual things that they're kids are doing sometimes.