Bronx DA says low child abuse numbers during COVID are deceiving

As reported numbers of child abuse have decreased during COVID-19, the district attorney stresses that the numbers are misleading.
Photo courtesy of Bronx District Attorney's Office

Recent reports have shown that the numbers of child abuse incidents have decreased during the COVID-19 crisis. But the borough’s district attorney said that these numbers are misleading.

Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark said that reports of abuse, instead of the incidents themselves, have dropped significantly, leading to concerns that staying at home decreases contact with mandated reporters of abuse.

On April 27, she urged Bronxites to be vigilant about children at risk of abuse or neglect during the COVID-19 crisis, as social distancing and home schooling is isolating children from teachers, pediatricians, daycare staff and others who would normally be checking on their safety.

The Instant Response Team (Administration for Children’s Services, NYPD and Bronx DA’s Child Abuse/Sex Crimes Bureau) jointly investigated 34 incidents of severe abuse or maltreatment in the Bronx in April, compared to 103 incidents during March (schools closed on March 16) and 152 incidents in January.

“As a direct result of this pandemic, we are seeing an enormous drop in reporting of abuse,” Clark said. “We at the Bronx District Attorney’s Office continue to work with the Bronx Special Victims Squad of the NYPD and other partnering agencies to ensure that children in our community are kept safe.”

As April is Child Abuse Prevention Month, Clark emphasized how important it is to report abuse.

“We must find ways to connect with families to make sure that they are supported, safe, and feel empowered,” Clark said. “Everyone has a role in preventing child abuse. Now more than ever we need to stand together to prevent physical and sexual abuse of children behind closed doors. The risk to children increases when contact with mandated reporters, such as teachers and health care providers, decreases.”

To report abuse or neglect, anonymously, call the Bronx District Attorney’s Office Child Abuse Hotline at 718-838-7344 or the New York State Central Registry Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-342-3720. Mandated reporters can call 1-800-635-1522. Those who are deaf or hard of hearing can call 1-800-638-5163.

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