Child abuse spike feared as families quarantine

Experts recommend calling hotline to report abuse

SAN ANTONIO – Fears that the coronavirus quarantine will spark a flurry of unreported child abuse cases is prompting advocates to spread the word on how to calm the situation.

Dr. Natalie Kissoon at the UT Health San Antonio Center for Miracles said parents have a lot more on their plates, and there are a lot of reasons for tensions to arise in the home.

“They must teach them as if they were in school and they must keep them entertained and they must keep them away from other people. So that’s a lot of things we’re asking parents to do. And for everyone, it’s very, very difficult,” said Kissoon.

The Center for Miracles in San Antonio, like many non-profits who deal directly with abused and neglected children, is not reporting an increase in cases. That’s nothing to celebrate, however, because there is a working theory that the lack of child abuse reports could be due to the fact that those people who normally report these cases, such as teachers, are out of direct touch with their kids.

Kissoon said that puts all of us in charge, instead.

Child abuse will spike with stressed families stuck at home during quarantine, experts say

“Everyone in Texas, everyone, is a mandated reporter. And so even though we are not going to be with each other, as we normally are, we still have a responsibility to pay attention to what’s going on around us," Kissoon said. "And if something is happening that you are suspicious about. Definitely make that phone call.”

The phone call she’s recommending is to the state Child Abuse Hotline which is 1-800-252-5400. If you are calling to report a case, someone will take down your information and it will be investigated.

If you are having trouble with your kids, by calling the hotline, you will be helped by counselors who can talk you through it.

If that is your case, Kissoon says you have permission to leave your child in a safe place. You could leave a baby that is not yet climbing his or her playpen or crib. A toddler could be left for a few minutes in a room with nothing they can climb up on and hurt themselves.

She says by just walking away for a minute or two, you let the moment pass when child abuse is most likely to happen.

To make things easier, make sure you keep a good schedule for your kids, experts recommend.

Have a consistent wake up time, consistent bedtime, consistent mealtimes, and set aside time for when you do schoolwork and exercise.

Kissoon recommends a walk down the street with the whole family can relieve the pressure of quarantine.

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