Impact of pandemic on child abuse and neglect reporting

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BECKLEY, WV (WVNS) — Statistics show that teachers report child abuse and neglect more than any other group. That would make sense, since they spend every day with children.

In Raleigh County, Frankie Cappellari, the Director of Counseling for Raleigh County Schools, said it is part of their job.

“Every school staff member including cooks, custodians are mandated reporters of abuse,” Cappellari said.

But during the pandemic, Scott Miller, the Executive Director of Just for Kids Child Advocacy Center, said kids are spending less and less time in the classrooms.

“At first, when kids were really just at home, we weren’t getting any reports, calls, or interviewing many children,” Miller said.

Less reports does not mean less child abuse, it just means it’s not being reported. But with school starting this year with students learning mostly remotely, teachers had to change how they look for abuse.

“Counselors have been contacting at-risk students in particular,” Cappellari said.

Teachers and counselors had to learn how to pick up on warning signs and pay attention to changes in students through zoom calls. Some counselors are utilizing online surveys to get a better understanding of how their students are doing at home.

One noticeable change is more students are reporting their own abuse now more than ever.

“For the first time, a majority of the calls into the hotlines to report abuse, are from children,” Miller said.

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