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Fewer NH Child-Abuse Reports During Pandemic Raising Concerns

Experts say kids are making fewer reports of abuse because during the pandemic, they've had less contact with trusted adults outside their household. (bigandt/iStockphoto)
Experts say kids are making fewer reports of abuse because during the pandemic, they've had less contact with trusted adults outside their household. (bigandt/iStockphoto)
May 20, 2020

PORTSMOUTH, N.H. -- Reports of child abuse and neglect to New Hampshire's Division of Children, Youth and Families have been down nearly 50% over the last eight weeks, and experts are certain that it isn't because abuse has evaporated during the pandemic lockdown.

With school now online and after-school programs on hold, Joy Barrett, chief executive of the Granite State Children's Alliance, said most kids no longer have the one-on-one time with teachers, coaches and school nurses, who are the number one reporters of potential abuse.

"In light of the fact that children are now at their home, many of whom are living with their perpetrator," she said, "they're not in a safe place to make that disclosure."

She noted that referrals to New Hampshire children's advocacy groups for treatment of children who have been sexually abused also are down by two-thirds during the pandemic. It isn't only a state trend; reports of child abuse and neglect have dropped significantly nationwide.

Barrett said advocacy groups are issuing a call to action to the general public to be vigilant -- and keep an eye out for signs of abuse that might otherwise be missed.

"In the state of New Hampshire, all adults are required by law to report suspicions of child abuse," she said. "We are what we call a universal mandated-reporting state."

The website knowandtell.org features tips on how to spot abuse and how to make a report. The site waypointnh.org has information about a "Warm Line" that helps families who may be experiencing extra stress during the pandemic.

Suzanne Potter, Public News Service - NH