BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Since the pandemic began, there have been spikes of domestic violence, but also an increase in child abuse.
“You have to watch children. You don’t always see the scars, you don’t always see that, but emotionally, they change. So I think everybody kind of needs to talk to their children about child abuse and to also be aware that it goes on everywhere and every strata of society,” said Sharon Pool, interim COO at the Baton Rouge Children’s Advocacy Center.
Doctors say social distancing is key during the pandemic, but some people worry not everyone is truly safe being stuck inside their homes. Child abuse cases around the Baton Rouge area have increased, according to the Baton Rouge Children’s Advocacy Center.
“What we are seeing, because everybody has been isolated and you know, in close quarters, it has created a lot of stress within families and so there’s definitely a spike in physical abuse because of stress levels,” said Janet Daigle, a forensic interviewer at the center.
Kids are more likely to tell someone about their abusers when they are not at home. For example, they may open up to a teacher at school or an advisor during clubs or extracurricular activities. However, many of those extras activities could be dropped from the fall schedule. As classes get cut short and some schools are choosing to operate from a hybrid learning model, children are put in a vulnerable spot now more than ever.
“A lot of our children disclose things that happened to them at school and maybe that’s going to be a factor too. They won’t be going to school and teachers won’t be keeping their eyes on things with kids, so we may not see as many cases because of that,” said Daigle.
In terms of getting help, the Baton Rouge Children’s Advocacy Center says kids should tell a trusted adult to at least let someone know this is happening to them in order to get the help they need. They also say typical signs of abuse, like changes in behavior, acting out at school, or night terrors, can be indicators of child abuse.
If you would like to report a child abuse case, you can call 225-343-1984. If you would like to get involved in the program or find a way to give back, go to the Baton Rouge Children’s Advocacy Center’s website. The organization is set to have its 14th Annual Celebrity Waiter on Aug. 12. The event will be held virtually.
Also, if you’re interested in being a child advocate, Capital Area Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) is looking for volunteers right now. Visit the organization’s website to sign up.
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