ALBANY, Ga. (WALB) - Eighty percent of the time children are abused, it’s done in their own home, according to the Lily Pad SANE Center.
The pandemic forced many families into their homes and out of a job or school.
Center CEO Mary Matinez said it’s impossible to compare this year’s abuse cases with last year’s.
“Child abuse is normally identified by a mandated reporter. Schools report up to 52% of cases and when schools not in, we’re not getting those cases,” said Martinez.
Martinez said because of kids being around less mandated reporters, which is anyone that works with children, fewer cases may have been reported.
“It doesn’t matter whether they have hard evidence that this is happening, they don’t need a confession, they don’t need tons of different bruises on a child’s body. If they suspect abuse is happening, they should report,” said Martinez.
She said false reports of child abuse are rare. Only about 4-8% of reported cases are false.
“Right now, my biggest fear has been how many kids are suffering and we don’t know how many children have been abused during the pandemic,” said Martinez.
She said this year has been very tough. People have lost their jobs, making times more stressful. Situations like these are when child abuse rates can rise.
“I hope that after getting back in, those mandated reporters are looking for signs of child abuse and are calling in and reporting,” said Martinez.
She said reports should be made to DFCS or law enforcement within 24 hours.
“Although the law says 24 hours, we hope that they’re making that report immediately because you don’t know what’s happening in that home, and if you send that child home, another abusive event may occur,” said Martinez.
Martinez gave words of encouragement to those who may be facing an abusive situation.
“Call us. Even if you don’t want to give me your name, you don’t want to tell me what happened, that’s okay too. You can still call me. We’re always here without judgement, willing to listen and help that survivor get on the road to healing,” said Martinez.
The Lily Pad SANE Center can be reached at (229) 435-0074.