Apr 19, 2020 - Health

"Suffering in silence": Worries mount over drop in reported child abuse cases

In Spokane, Washington, Adams Elementary School third-grade teachers used plastic cups to build a message to their students. Photo: Dan Pelle/The Spokesman-Review via AP

Child welfare agencies have lost some of their best "eyes and ears" for reporting abuse and neglect as a result of school closures, AP reports.

Why it matters: April is Child Abuse Prevention Month. Across the country, states are reporting fewer calls to child abuse hotlines, which officials believe is a sign that many cases are going unreported.

By the numbers: Washington state’s child abuse hotline witnessed a 50% drop in calls, while Montana, Oklahoma and Louisiana are reporting about a 45% reduction.

  • Arizona’s calls are down one-third compared with previous weeks, and Nevada has seen a 14% drop compared to March 2019.

What they're saying: "That means many children are suffering in silence," Darren DaRonco, spokesperson for the Arizona Department of Child Safety, told AP.

  • “When there are large-scale job losses in communities, child maltreatment rates go up," said Anna Gassman-Pines, a Duke University public policy professor whose expertise includes the effect of unemployment on children.
  • Jill Cook, assistant director of the American School Counselor Association in Virginia, said calls to domestic violence hotlines are rising, which indicates that some children may be in unsafe homes.

The big picture: The coronavirus pandemic has upended millions of Americans' routines and inflamed stresses that contribute to child abuse.

  • Marti Vining, Montana’s Child and Family Services administrator, said overwhelmed families should call their state hotlines for help with public assistance, possible child care and a plan to help reduce stress.

Go deeper: Virus vices take a toll on Americans

Go deeper

Updated 7 hours ago - Health

U.S. coronavirus updates

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios. This graphic includes "probable deaths" that New York City began reporting on April 14.

Florida reported on Wednesday its largest number of new novel coronavirus cases in a single day since April 17. 1,317 people tested positive to take the state total to 58,764, per the state's health department. Despite the rise, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said bars and clubs could reopen on Friday.

By the numbers: More than 107,000 Americans have died of the coronavirus and over 1.8 million people have tested positive, per data from Johns Hopkins. More than 479,000 Americans have recovered and over 18 million tests have been conducted.

Coronavirus hospitalizations keep falling

Data: COVID Tracking Project, Harvard Global Health Institute; Note: Alabama, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Kansas, Nebraska, Tennessee and Puerto Rico have not reported hospitalizations consistently. Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

The number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 continues to decline, particularly in New York and other northeastern states that were among the hardest hit by the virus.

Yes, but: Some states are still recording stagnant or rising amounts of hospitalizations.

1.9 million Americans filed for unemployment last week

Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

Another roughly 1.9 million people filed for unemployment last week, the Department of Labor said on Thursday.

The big picture: The coronavirus pandemic is still putting a historic strain on the labor market, though the pace of unemployment applications continues to slow.