These are unprecedented times. Due to the current COVID-19 pandemic, Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear, along with Governors across the nation, has issued strict orders to practice social distancing and stay “Healthy at Home” to slow the spread of the virus. While physical distancing practices are presumably decreasing the positive COVID-19 cases throughout the state, Kentucky is also experiencing another decline that has much more concerning implications for some of our most vulnerable Kentuckians.
Recent reports have indicated a significant decline in child maltreatment reports to Child Protective Services during the pandemic. Numbers provided by the Cabinet for Health and Family Services (CHFS) show that such reports of suspected child abuse and neglect decreased by over 1,000 reports during the week of mass closures throughout the state, which included schools, day cares, and restaurants. In a state with the highest rate of child maltreatment in the nation, these numbers suggest that many instances of child maltreatment are now going unnoticed due to social distancing guidelines.
April is Child Abuse Prevention Month and the Kosair Charities Face It Movement is dedicated to raising awareness of this important issue. Kentucky’s mandated reporting law requires that any adult that suspects abuse report it. That’s why, as proud partners of the Face It Movement, we are sharing information to help us understand that we all have a role to play in preventing child abuse and neglect in our communities.
In response to the pandemic, Face It has developed a new COVID-19 webpage, a one-stop hub of all things COVID-19 parenting. Parents, caregivers, and the larger community can find useful information and tips around managing the chaos at home, reducing stress, and having fun with their family. In addition to raising awareness around the signs and symptoms of abuse and neglect, Face It is also sharing tips for parents to reduce stress and isolation, and encourage friends and neighbors to provide help and support to parents and caregivers that may be struggling during these difficult times.
Preventing child abuse is an adult responsibility. While it can be difficult to monitor the kids in our lives amid the current circumstances, it is as important as ever to ensure we are preventing child maltreatment by supporting parents and caregivers and reporting any suspicions of abuse or neglect. And remember, social distancing does not mean social isolation – reach out however and whenever you can to friends, family, and neighbors.