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Experts are concerned cases of child abuse may increase as 'Stay Safe, Stay Home' order continues

A child looking upward while holding a teddy bear

In a matter of weeks, COVID-19 has upended the lives of children and families across Michigan. School closures and movement restrictions are disrupting children's routines and support systems while adding new stressors on caregivers.

“When we look at families who are losing their jobs, being laid off, not having income to pay their rent, you can see an increase in stress within those homes that can be directly related to an increase in child abuse and neglect.”

That’s Jeremiah Hawkins, the chief programs officer at D.A. Blodgett St. Johns, a local child welfare organization. He says, he’s concerned that children’s limited in-person connections with teachers may be impacting those already experiencing abuse in the home.

“We anticipate that there could be an increase in abuse and neglect but in under reporting because we don’t see as many reporters out there with the schools.”

As April is Child Abuse awareness month, Hawkins says his staff is continuing to connect with families every day through the phone, teleconferencing or in-person when necessary.