LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Reports of child abuse are significantly down in Clark County and it’s prompting concern that more cases might be going unnoticed because children aren’t in school.
In Clark County, calls to report child abuse were down by more than 40% in April, compared to January, before the pandemic.
Teachers and coaches are considered mandated reporters, but since most kids aren’t going to school, there’s concern abuse or neglect could go unreported.
8 News Now spoke to Amanda Haboush-Deloye, the Interim Executive Director for the Nevada Institute for Children’s Research and Policy.
“One of the things we were concerned about from the beginning is when kids aren’t around other adults, it is hard to identify whether or not kids are safe,” Haboush-Deloye said.
She explained there are things we can do as a community to help.
CHILD ABUSE HOTLINE: Click here for information on reporting suspected abuse – You can also call (702) 399-0081.
“The more that neighbors can interact and keep a lookout for kids,” Haboush-Deloye said.
“Offer resources to the parents, they’re our friends, they need to be able to feel supported during this time to keep the whole family unit safe.”
She said making safe contact to check on children in person is important.
“Look for signs to see if kids are struggling in the environment,” she explained.
“Pay attention to clothing, if they look clean or dirty, malnourished. When they talk, to look for any signs they may be unsafe in any way… if they seem like they’re exposed to content or material that a child shouldn’t be saying.”
She says no sign by itself necessarily means children are being mistreated, but may warrant further conversation or investigation.
Haboush-Deloye said there’s been an uptick of more children running away from home nationwide. In addition, since reporting has drastically declined, officials are now turning to child injuries in emergency rooms in an attempt to gauge abuse cases.
“Hospitals are trying to keep tabs on if they’re seeing an increase in injuries that could be related to child maltreatment in the ER,” she said. “Because that’s where (we’re) afraid they’re going to end up because no one is catching it ahead of time, when you’re seeing smaller, maybe signs that are leading up so you can intervene.”
You can find more resources and ways to prevent child abuse on Prevent Child Abuse Nevada’s website.