Indiana numbers show drop in child abuse and neglect reports amid COVID-19

Posted at 8:45 AM, Mar 31, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-19 15:40:48-04

INDIANAPOLIS — Fewer people are reporting child abuse and neglect in Indiana amid the COVID-19 pandemic, according to new numbers obtained by Call 6 Investigates.

In March 2019 (3/1 to 3/30), the Indiana Department of Child Services hotline received 16,132 calls.

In March 2020 (3/1 to 3/30), the DCS hotline received 14,366—that’s an 11% drop compared to last year.

It’s a trend child advocates feared would happen as children are isolated with their families and not seeing trusted adults who might report abuse or neglect.

“Our fear is that it is due to children not being seen by those who would normally report, schoolteachers, before and after school programs, counselors, etc,” said Sandy Runkle with Prevent Child Abuse Indiana. “Now more than ever, we need communities to come together, and to pay extra attention to children and families even if it is virtual.”

Child advocates suspect that the drop in reports does not mean fewer children are being abused and neglected.

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“There are still brave people working out in the community that see children and families on a regular basis: store clerks, postal workers, pharmacy employees sanitation workers, people just taking walks around their neighborhood,” said Runkle. “We need to pay special attention, now more than ever, to what is going on around us. We need to check in now more than ever with families.”

Prevent Child Abuse Indiana is asking stores to print resources to have at checkout lines around stress management, internet safety, where to go in terms of help with domestic violence, etc.

“Those types of resources can be so helpful,” said Runkle.

If you do suspect that a child is being maltreated, please call the Indiana Department of Child -Services at 1-800-800-5556 to make a report.

You can report anonymously.

The Indiana Department of Child Services issued the following statement to RTV6:

"Indiana is a mandatory reporting state, which means all Hoosiers are required by law to contact the hotline if they suspect child abuse or neglect. It is always important to contact a family who might be struggling and ask if they need help. If there is ever a suspicion of abuse or neglect, immediately call the child abuse and neglect hotline at 800-800-5556."