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Child Abuse Hotline Calls Drop As Pandemic Isolation Weakens Safety Net

Sign on the Grandview Schools campus.
Kristofor Husted / KBIA

The Missouri Department of Social Services has reported an alarming drop in calls to the child abuse hotline. 

In mid-March, calls plummeted about 50%.

Typically, the department gets around 650 reports of child abuse per weekday, DSS Children’s Division Deputy Director Sara Smith said. That number has dwindled to 335. DSS attributes children's social isolation away from mandatory reporters — educators and child care providers — to the drop in calls.

Such a decline isn’t unusual for summer months, when school is out. It’s unclear what the impact will be when many summer camps and programs are canceled, leaving more kids at home.

Principals, school officials and teachers accounted for over 23% of child abuse and neglect reporters in 2019. Jennifer Tidball, DSS acting director, said without daily contact with child care providers, children’s safety could be “seriously impacted.”

To read more, visit our partners at the Columbia Missourian.