Child abuse rates could rise as kids head back into the classroom

As students are returning to school, the reports of child abuse go up. Find out the signs of abuse and how to report them.
Published: Aug. 17, 2022 at 5:56 PM CDT
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DOTHAN, Ala. (WTVY) - Back to school can be a joyful time, but studies show it’s also when child abuse rates tend to spike.

Alabama teachers are trained to look out for students who may be battling something outside the classroom.

Over the summer, some kids stay home and don’t interact with adults other than family members.

The rate for child abuse rises because when students return to the classroom, if a teacher suspects something is wrong, they are required to report it.

If you’re around a child and you feel something’s not right, it’s okay to ask questions.

Grace Geisler, Multi-Disciplinary Team Coordinator with the Child Advocacy Center says, “Hey, I’m worried about you. Hey, I just want to make sure everything’s okay. Is there anything going on at home that you’re worried about?”

The Child Advocacy Center sees an average of 350 Wiregrass students every year for new reports of physical and sexual abuse

“We make it a priority to go to every county that we serve, to the school systems, and talk to all of the students in that area about what child abuse is, and if something like that is happening to them, then they have people at their school that they can talk to if they need to disclose abuse,” explains Geisler.

Neglect is the most common.

As mandated reporters, school officials know the signs to look for.

“Are they crying a lot, do they seem sad, are they seeking attention in negative ways, are they acting out?” expresses Wendy Anderson, Guidance Counselor at Selma Street Elementary. “Also, cleanliness. Are they being taken care of?”

Area schools like Selma Street Elementary offer several resources for students that will also benefit parents.

Anderson says, “We have a food pantry, we have a clothes closet, we have community donations, we have weekend food bags that go home, we just want our parents to know that it’s okay to reach out for help.”

Even if you are not considered a mandatory reporter, you can still report abuse.

If you do not know for sure if it’s happening, you can report your concerns anonymously to DHR or local law enforcement.

There is also a national child abuse hotline: 1-800-4-A-CHILD.

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