April is Child Abuse Awareness month. When things are “normal” across the South Plains, child abuse cases average about three children per day. But right now with people staying home and many losing their jobs there is already an increase of cases. We take a look at the uptick in numbers and how to look for signs during the quarantine.
“Children are at home with their parents and there’s a lot of stress with finances, some people have lost jobs. They are not with their teachers at school. Teachers, Medical Personnel and Police are the top reporters of that kind of stuff. Relatives only 9% call to say something about abuse. Right now they aren’t seeing these people and they are at home with their family.” Belinda Waters is the Trauma Coordinator for Covenant Children’s and says the uncertainty and mental stress is affecting everyone due to Covid-19. Meaning we all have to work together to spot abuse. Waters goes on to say, “Most people don’t realize that every person in Texas is required by law to report suspected abuse.”
An advocate for Child Abuse Awareness and having been through it herself is Allie Graves, Miss Texas’ Outstanding Teen 2019. “Growing up I was abused, put in foster care and then adopted.”
There are ways to be on the lookout. Waters stresses, “so everyone has Facetime that they can do like video chats so highly encourage that. Check on your Grandchildren your neighbors kids, your nieces and nephews, encourage it to be video so that you can actually see the the child. Look for any type of bruising or injury. If it is a child that is able to speak try to get them to talk alone, make sure they feel safe at home. Give them a chance to speak out and actually ask for help.”
Take a step back when you feel like you are losing control. Graves says, “take some time to take care of yourself and find some ways to handle the stress, when we try to handle those things in unhealthy ways we would never do.”
Take a walk outside or around your house but make sure that your kids are safe. “Your circumstances or the mistakes you made they don’t define you, reminds Graves.”
And one more message of hope from Allie Graves, “No matter what you are going through you are loved. You have hope and help and no matter what you are going through it’s not your final destination in your life.”
If you need to report abuse you can call 1-800-252-5400.