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Child Abuse Calls, Investigations Are Down in Central Florida During Coronavirus Pandemic, But Expert Warns That Doesn't Mean Kids Are Safe

Photo: Kelly Sikkema @kellysikkema
Photo: Kelly Sikkema @kellysikkema

There’s been a decrease in the number of child abuse calls and investigations in Central Florida since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. 

Embrace Families CEO Glen Casel says just because reporting has gone down, child abuse has not stopped in the Central Florida area.

He said primary callers like school teachers and healthcare professionals aren’t around to identify the signs and reach out for help.

“Those teachers don’t have that same contact, that same insight, that same ability to catch those early signs of concern and they’re the ones most likely to call in a child abuse investigation.”

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Casel says some of the burden for reporting abuse has shifted to people in the community like neighbors.

“There’s a little bit of a now responsibility to be those eyes and ears for children that are around us, that are near us. Our neighbors and our community. Because those primary callers, those primary responders are not there right now.”

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Casel says signs of child abuse include physical marks, but also sudden and permanent changes in behavior including outbursts or becoming more withdrawn.

He says his staff can still perform wellness checks virtually or in the home while wearing protective gear.

If you or your child is being abused, call the Florida Abuse Hotline at 1-800-962-2873 or text 711.
If you'd like to listen to the story, click on the clips above.

Danielle Prieur is a general assignment reporter and fill-in host at WMFE.
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