COVID-19 and social distancing are having an impact on child abuse reports

The Mississippi Department of Child Protection Services is asking for help to keep children safe

COVID-19 and social distancing are having an impact on child abuse reports

JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - The Mississippi Department of Child Protection Services is asking for help to protect children who may be in danger.

CPS Communications Director Lea Anne Brandon says there is concern about the potentially dangerous impact social distancing and self-quarantining for coronavirus may have on Mississippi’s most vulnerable children.

Brandon says now that many trusted adults are practicing social distancing or working from home the state's most vulnerable children need help.
Brandon says now that many trusted adults are practicing social distancing or working from home the state's most vulnerable children need help. (Source: WLBT)

Because schools are closed as well as after school clubs and sports, CPS is not receiving as many reports of child abuse or neglect.

Brandon says without as many eyes on these children by trusted adults, including healthcare professionals and teachers, not as many reports are being made.

Brandon said, “First place that would sound like great news. There’s no problem. Second, when you really look at it though, we realize that the mandatory reporters are not seeing these children and so they’re not being able to make reports and concerns, so what we’re asking for is for the public to really start paying attention to their neighborhoods and their neighbors, people that they run across just to see if they see any concerns to report to us."

The Mississippi Department of Child Protection Services says you can report abuse or neglect anonymously.
The Mississippi Department of Child Protection Services says you can report abuse or neglect anonymously. (Source: MS Department of Child Protection Services)

She continued, saying, "In Mississippi, anyone 18 and older is a mandatory reporter. That means if you or I or anybody that’s an adult sees a child that is being neglected or that they have concerns of being neglected, it is our legal responsibility, not to mention our moral responsibility, to contact our agency and let us provide the help that’s needed.”

Brandon says the agency knows pressures are even greater for families right now, but they need to know where to respond in order to provide help.

You can report suspected child abuse or neglect anonymously on the 24 hour hotline number by calling 1-800-222-8000 or on the CPS website.

Mississippi averages about 25,000 reports of suspected abuse, neglect or exploitation of children each year.

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