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Coronavirus Adds New Hurdles to Child-Abuse Prevention

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Friday, April 10, 2020   

BOISE, Idaho -- April is Child Abuse Prevention Month, and this year it comes with an extra challenge, as Idahoans shelter in place to avoid the spread of the new coronavirus.

Cathy Carmen is an instructor in Boise for the program Stewards of Children, which holds training on child sexual-abuse prevention for adults.

"When children are in isolated situations, that's when -- from what research tells us -- about 80% of the sexual abuse occurs," says Carmen. "And we are isolated in our own homes right now."

About 90% of victims know their abusers.

Carmen says children being out of school also increases the chances for abuse. Teachers are responsible for more than half of child sexual abuse reports, according to the organization Darkness to Light.

Katelyn Brewer, president and CEO of Darkness to Light, says this could be one reason reports of abuse are down across the country.

Her group is holding new training for abuse prevention during a crisis on its website, d2l.org.

For parents, Brewer says it's important to rethink what is normal right now. If children are hanging out with other kids, she says, it's important to keep an eye on these situations. As many as 40% of children are abused by an older child.

"Really, it's just thinking into a deep dive around how you minimize opportunity for abuse and keep situations interruptible, and set new expectations for you and your family," says Brewer.

Brewer says children facing abuse don't have to call a hotline for help. They can text the word 'LIGHT' to 741741.

"The crisis text line is there for those moments where you can't have a phone call," says Brewer. "So I think it's important to have both a hotline and a text line right now."


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