HOUSTON - Houston leaders are asking everyone to look out for signs of child abuse, as cases are up amid the coronavirus stay-at-home orders.
“Child abuse and domestic abuse—we know that both of them are up,” said Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo. “Please pay attention. When you see neighborhood kids, Look for behavior. See if you’ve seen changes in behavior. See if you’ve seen any bruising. Please call us.”
With fewer eyes on children right now, fewer child abuse cases have actually been reported to Child Protective Services, says Children at Risk President Dr. Bob Sanborn.
“CPS is reporting a decrease,” said Sanborn. “We think the reality that we’re seeing--from police departments, from emergency rooms—the reality is is that there are more cases of child abuse going on.”
He says the economic shutdown could be contributing to a more dangerous home environment for some children.
“These parents are not used to spending 24 hours a day with the kids,” said Sanborn. “The parents themselves have a lot of stress: Am I going to be able to keep my job? Do I have a job?”
He says if you see any evidence of child abuse, you’ve got to get the children separated from their abuser.
“Historically teachers have been big reporters,” said Sanborn. “Teachers are able to see kids. They’re outside of the home. They’re able to ask questions. We’re not seeing that now. So now it’s up to neighbors. It’s up to other family members to see when kids have injuries, to see when kids are extremely depressed, to be able to figure out what’s going on. But remember for all of us: we have to report these things.”
To separate a child from a potential abuser, Sanborn says you can either get them to spend time with their grandparent, call CPS, or call 911.