Calls to Indiana child abuse hotline down during pandemic

Calls to Indiana’s child abuse and neglect hotline fell by more than 10% last year compared to the previous two years, and an expert said that may reflect the isolation brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Indiana Department of Child Services hotline received on average about 600 calls each business day in 2020, the agency said, compared with about 700 calls on average every business day in 2018 and 2019.

“A lot of times our report sources are people who see the kids every day, who notice a behavior change or who see a bruise that wasn’t there yesterday,” DCS family case manager supervisor Lacy Mullenberg told The Indianapolis Star. “And then during the pandemic, we saw less kids in school, they weren’t having in-person doctor visits, they weren’t having in-person therapeutic visits.

“It doesn’t mean it’s not happening. It just means no one’s seeing it,” Mullenberg said.

April is Child Abuse Prevention Month. Indiana law requires every adult who suspects abuse or neglect is occurring to report it to authorities. Reports can be made by calling 911 or the Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline at 800-800-5556. The hotline is available 24/7 and reports can be made anonymously.

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