Increased stress and tension brought on by the pandemic has led to decreased child abuse reports--but experts caution that this isn't a good thing

How to spot child abuse or neglect in remote learning environments


Increased stress and tension brought on by the pandemic has led to decreased child abuse reports--but experts caution that this isn't a good thing

2020 has challenged the U.S. education system in ways we never thought possible. Remote learning has uncovered many issues with the education system in the United States, including decreased child abuse reports by up to 50 percent (though, under normal circumstances, child abuse and neglect actually increases during times of crisis and instability) (Callahan & Mink, 2020).

According to the U.S. Center for Disease Control (CDC), one in five children and adolescents experience a mental health problem, such as stress, anxiety, bullying, family problems, depression, etc. during their school-aged years (2019). In a traditional, in-person school year, some estimates say that 60 percent of students do not receive the support that they need – so in remote learning environments, it’s not difficult to see how even more students aren’t receiving the support they need as staff members who would usually be interacting with children are no longer doing so.

It is an educator’s responsibility to watch out for child abuse or neglect, including during remote learning, and understand their role as a mandated reporter (every state has similar, yet individual, mandates.) This can help them understand a child’s home life, and potentially flag if they suspect that abuse is happening at home.

“Any time a child’s behavior or attitudes change, there is cause for concern,” says Joe Laramie, a retired police Lieutenant and former Missouri Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force Commander. “It could indicate a variety of things, depending upon their home environment, their relationships with friends, and relationships within their own family. We should be paying attention to moods and behaviors.”

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