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Drop in reports of child abuse causes concern: 'It's what keeps me up at night'

Since the stay-at-home orders began, reports of child abuse in Wake County have dropped drastically.

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Mandy Mitchell
, WRAL reporter

Since the stay-at-home orders began, reports of child abuse in Wake County have dropped drastically.

While this may seem like good news on the surface, it's actually very alarming to those work with families on preventing abuse and neglect.

"This kind of decrease is not indicative that abuse and neglect are going down, we think it's really indicative of less reporting," said Paige Rosemond, Director of Child Welfare in Wake County.

Abuse likely going unreported

"It's what keeps me up at night," she said.

Wake County averages about 160 reports of abuse a week during normal conditions. The county received 164 reports during the second week of March. That number dropped to 89 by the second week of April.

And it's not just Wake County. This pattern is common throughout the country right now.

"For the past 23 years, I've been in this profession and have never seen those types of drops. I mean even when we have experienced as a nation other crises. So, this is truly significant," Rosemond said.

A big reason for this is because kids are not in school right now. Teachers are often the first to notice abuse and neglect and report it to authorities. 25 percent of reports from the second week of March came from educational personnel. It dropped to 1 percent by the second week of April.

Child abuse advocates are hoping others in the community will step up to help -- fill the gap by checking in with neighbors and paying attention to what is happening with children in the neighborhood.

"We've got to be creative in how we learn how others are doing, and lessen the stigma around being in need and asking for help."

Experts say if you think you see or hear something unusual in your neighborhood, it's important to report it to authorities as soon as possible instead of waiting for something to happen a second time.


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