BLUEFIELD, WV (WVNS)–Students at Bluefield State University attended a presentation about research findings on child abuse and neglect.

Child abuse or neglect if not reported can lead to severe injuries or death.

But attorney Raeann Osborne with Osborne and Associates PLLC in Princeton wants students at Bluefield State University to know the importance of child abuse, neglect and being a mandated reporter.

Osborne said signs come in many forms and sometimes in denial.

“Children can be very resilient but if there’s abuse going on oftentimes they want to protect the parent or the caregiver. They still love that person despite the abuse they’re going through at the time,” Osborne said.

During the pandemic, Osborne said the number of reported child abuse cases was low but doesn’t think it’ll stay that way.

In the first half of 2022, she said West Virginia saw over 20,000 referrals for child abuse but the number will rise.

“For a long time where the children were not exposed to other resources and other parties that could be those reporters we believe that there’s probably a lot of abuse and neglect that was going on during the pandemic that just was not being reported,” Osborne said.

Osborne also talked about mandated reporters and how vital they are to the system in reporting child abuse.
Some members include medical professionals, teachers, social service workers, and members of the clergy.

“Anything that you see or come across that gives you reason to suspect child abuse or neglect, you are required to report within 24 hours,” Osborne said.