Officials Ask Public to be Vigilant About Suspected Child Abuse During Pandemic

Remote learning poses risk for children in abusive homes Editorial posted in the Kane County Chronicle, April 23, 2020

ST. CHARLES TOWNSHIP – With remote learning for K-12 students because of the COVID-19 pandemic, educators are not seeing their students personally, and it is not without risks to those children who are in abusive situations at home, the Kane County State’s Attorney’s Office announced in a news release.

Although the quarantine is a public safety necessity, the pandemic presents significant challenges for children who live in abusive homes, as educators make up the majority of mandated child abuse and neglect reports to DCFS.

As April is Child Abuse Prevention Month, the Kane County State’s Attorney’s Office is asking those in the community – parents, friends and classmates – to be vigilant in ensuring that all children are safe, the release stated. Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s stay-at-home order makes this difficult, but there still are things the public can do:

  • Be a supportive community member who recognizes that COVID-19 is stressful for families, and offer support while observing social distancing and other safety measures.
  • Share the Illinois DCFS hotline number – 800-252-2873 – with friends and family through text, phone calls and social media.
  • Parents can ask their children if they have checked in with friends and classmates. Allow children to express if they have concerns about their friends. Be responsive to those remarks without overreacting.
  • Parents should be watchful while children are participating in online educational platforms to see if any of the children on line have cuts or bruises, or appear disheveled.
  • Neighborhood children outside may seem disengaged, lonely or present physical evidence of abuse. If anyone notes these red flags, safely engage in a conversation, ask if the child needs anything, if they are hungry, if they feel OK and safe, and how school is going.

Mandated reporters are required by law to report suspected child abuse, but anyone can make a good faith report by calling 800-252-2873. A person does not have to be absolutely certain of abuse or neglect, all that is required is a reasonable suspicion, the release stated. Kane County State’s Attorney Joe McMahon, Kane County Regional Schools Superintendent Patricia Dal Santo and CASA Kane County Executive Director Gloria Kelley, urge the public to remain aware of hidden dangers in the community and to report suspected abuse.