JOPLIN, Mo. — The number of child abuse and neglect reports has dropped since the start of the pandemic.
The Children’s Center investigates any instances of neglect and abuse reported in Southwest Missouri. They have been seeing a drop in reports since the pandemic started.
Desiree Breidenstein, Community Outreach Coordinator, said, “Our most important goal is to provide a safe place for children to come and tell their story. We want to prevent any further trauma happening to the child.”
The Children’s Center has seen a drop in children receiving help during the pandemic. In 2019 they helped 1,197 children compared to only 1,000 in 2020. The advocacy center says the reason reports are lower is because kids were learning from home — away from teachers and bus drivers who report abuse. But the Missouri Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline is also seeing a surge in educational neglect.
“Children are doing schooling online and either they’re not being taken to school or they’re not being checked in on the computers that’s a trend we are seeing right now.”
Once someone calls to report abuse to the Missouri Child Abuse And Neglect Hotline — it then goes to Children’s Center where they investigate with the Childrens Division and police.
“If you suspect abuse I would just make a phone call. You don’t have to be a mandatory reporter to make a phone call,”
Jasper County Court Appointed Special Advocates also known as CASA works with Children’s Division and helps kids through the court process.
Debi Koelkebeck, Executive Director Jasper Co CASA, said, “We know it changes children’s lives. I get to be on the front row to see that. The differences that the volunteers and that the system is making in their kids lives to have them be happy and successful.”
If you suspect abuse call the Missouri Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline at 1-800-392-3738. For more information on Jasper County CASA and how to volunteer follow the link below.