The month of April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month. During this time of coronavirus and shelter in place orders remaining in effect, representatives at Olive Crest said, Hundreds of thousands of children in the U.S. are facing a heightened risk of abuse and neglect, as coronavirus-related school closures keep them at home and away from the nation's biggest group of hotline tipsters — educators!"
John Thoresen, the director, and executive officer at the Barbara Sinatra Children's Center said, "Unfortunately I think we are going to see a very large spike in reported child abuse after kids get back to school." Even if kids do not end up back to school in the Fall. Some children's centers might see an increase in abuse calls while coronavirus keeps people at home, others see a major decline because most mandated reporters of child abuse are school teachers, pediatricians, and family friends. When children are no longer around these people, they are not revealing or disclosing any abuse, so the calls go down, according to Thoresen.
For parents, this time can be stressful as well. Health professionals want to reassure parents that it is ok to reach out for help and guidance. Thoresen said, "With the isolation and I think the economic ramifications that are surrounding the COVID-19 virus, parents need to really be careful of giving themselves some time so they don’t get overwhelmed in all of this and end up striking out at the child." Kelly Lewallen, a clinical director with Desert Marriage and Family Counseling, said, "When there’s more stress it just trickles down to children." She added, "Even if you’re just yelling more, that’s not good for kids or families."
The main message for kids is that it's important for them to confide in a trusted adult. Thoresen said, "We always have told children, if something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t right."
For those who might be neighbors, although it might seem uncomfortable, you shouldn't be concerned if you have to make a report. Lewallen added, "If we kind of have an inkling of something, to not be so afraid of stepping into other people's business. Because if something happens to that child we ultimately have a responsibility there because we chose not to say anything.”
If you do want to make a report, you can do that with Child Protective Services.
News Channel 3's Taban Sharifi will have a full story speaking with a representative local child abuse prevention centers to talk about the month of April being National Child Abuse Prevention Month, but also about the current coronavirus crisis, with children being very vulnerable to abuse and neglect.
Kaiser recommends that those in the Coachella Valley who are elderly and have underlying health conditions, including individuals who are HIV positive, limit non-essential travel and avoid large public gatherings.
Health officials said anyone who thinks they might be experiencing symptoms of the virus and want to be seen at Eisenhower Health should call the hospital hotline first at 760-837-8988. Avoid the spread of this illness.
Residents with further questions can call 2-1-1 and 800–CDC –INFO (800 – 232 – 4636) with any questions.
Public health recommendations for all Riverside County residents during community spread:
Practice social distancing, which is remaining out of places where people meet or gather and avoid using public transportation, if possible.
Do not attend work, school or events when sick. Stay home.
Cough into your elbow or tissue.
Wash hands frequently and use hand sanitizer often.
Stay away from anyone who is sick.