Child abuse cases have skyrocketed during the past year, and advocates say that because of virtual learning, many students may have fallen under the radar.
Workers are reporting at the Voices for Children advocacy center in Flint a 25 percent to 30 percent increase in the number of child abuse cases, according to Claudnyse Holloman, the center’s president and CEO.
Holloman says that while COVID-19 has affected almost all aspects of life, children have suffered as well.
“Think about the 15-16 months that we’ve been in this pandemic, these kids have been enduring the abuse that entire time,” Holloman said.
She said COVID-related lockdowns and virtual learning caused new burdens for parents.
“Sometimes parents were in a situation where they were required to go back to work in-person, but the kids were still required to do virtual schooling and they were had to look for help in other places,” Holloman said.
In many cases, she said parents had to find childcare with whoever was available, and that the person helping out was actually hurting the children.
She said teachers can often detect when something is wrong at home for students, and that with virtual learning some children fell under the radar.
“I could see in some cases where maybe some of those things did not come to light,” said Amy Urbanowski-Nowak, the president of Birch Run Education Association and an English teacher at Birch Run High School.
Urbanowski-Nowak wants to see more counselors in schools and a focus on wellness especially as kids return in the fall.
“I think that’s something we’ve realized for a really long time is that counselors are so important within the school system and there’s been a lack of counselors, quite frankly for years,” Urbanowski-Nowak said.
As life returns to normal, Holloman reminds everyone it’s their job to speak up when they suspect abuse.
“What if you were the one to save that child’s life? What if you’re that person? That change agent for that kid,” Holloman said.
Anyone who suspects child abuse or neglect can make a report by calling 855-444-3911.