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Fewer cases of child abuse reported during pandemic

Posted at 7:50 PM, May 04, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-04 19:50:04-04

LANSING, Mich. — Fewer people are reporting child abuse and neglect during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services said April had the least number of complaints in eight years.

Child advocates say that's because there's no one there to call for help.

"There is a greater risk for child abuse to occur," said Alex Brace, executive director Small Talk Children's Advocacy Center.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services said it got 12,555 reports of suspected child abuse in March.

That's the month Governor Gretchen Whitmer closed schools and issued the stay-home order.

In April, only 8,063 potential cases were reported. That's half as many as a year ago.

"They're stuck, isolated in their homes where maybe they are living with an abuser who now has almost unlimited access to them," said Brace.

Brace said the numbers are likely lower because children aren't around people who would normally report the abuse, like teachers and bus drivers.

"I don't think we ever want to put the prevention of child abuse in a child's hand. That should never be their responsibility," he said.

Brace said just because we are under a stay home order, doesn't mean people's responsibility changes. In fact, he is expecting more calls in a few months.

"It's very reasonable for us to expect we're going to see a spike in cases and we need to be prepared as an organization and a community," said Brace.

Police and Child Protective Services are still investigating suspected child abuse in Michigan.

If you believe a child is being abused, you can report it online or by calling 855-444-3911.

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