Drop in child abuse reports may not be good news

The number of child abuse reports is down, but agencies say the drop isn’t necessarily good news.

Teachers, school resource officers and others that typically report cases aren’t able to report them with children being out of school.

One Collier County shelter is taking precautions to protect children like Mitchaella Cetoute, who calls Youth Haven home.

“It’s such a miracle to me because there’s been so much stuff that has happened in my life and just to find a place like this is a blessing,” she said.

Like many kids on campus, she has experienced abuse firsthand and knows what others are going through.

Youth Haven Executive Director Jinx Liggett said COVID-19 has presented unique challenges for young victims, and while abuse reports from the Florida Department of Children and Families have declined, Liggett said that isn’t necessarily a positive.

“The severity and the aggressiveness of the abuse is markedly up which is very sad,” she said.

With school campuses closed, it can be difficult to stay on top of potential abuse cases.

“The number of abuses may go down simply because the people that know the kids quite well and the people that the kids trust are the teachers in their schools, the counselors in their schools, the advisors in the schools,” Liggett said.

“They are at home with the parents; there’s a lot of pressure.”

Liggett fears abuse cases will increase as pressure grows on families during the pandemic.

If you know or suspect a child is being abused, you can help. DCF has an online form you can fill out, or you can call 800-962-2873.

Reporter:Brea Hollingsworth
Writer:Jackie Winchester
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