Saida Maalin | Contributor
As stay-at-home orders are forcing families to self isolate, welfare officials in San Bernardino County believe children are at risk of parental abuse and it is going undetected.
“With the stay-at-home orders, children are not having face-to-face contact with those professionals in the community designated ‘mandated child abuse reporters.’ [This includes] doctors, teachers, mental health counselors and the like who are often able to detect concerns early on,” said Marlene Hagen, Director of County Children and Family services.
They believe cases are being underreported and there is actually a rise in domestic abuse during this COVID-19 pandemic.
While some families are enjoying this time to bond and stay safe, others are at risk of spousal and child emotional and physical abuse.
As restrictions continue into the summer and schools remain closed, families are forced to stay indoors while limiting their time apart.
“In many cases, even friends, relatives and neighbors are having little or no contact and are thus unable to notice any problems,” said Hagen.
According to San Bernardino County officials,–since the middle of March–tips and calls have decreased when the opposite was expected.
San Bernardino County officials report that they are doing everything they can to keep children safe during this testing time and have a team taking a look into every day reports of child abuse.
When reporting an incident of abuse, remember to include date, description of abuse–such as injuries, identity of abuser and relationship, witnesses to the incident, details of physical evidence, status of abused child–if he/she needs medical attention, location of child and a statement, if possible, from the victim.
Hagen asks if you know someone who requires these resources and is being abused or neglected, please contact the Child Abuse Hotline at (800) 827-8724, 211 or if it is a serious emergency, call 911.