July 19, 2021

If You See Something, Say Something

If You See Something, Say Something

The COVID-19 public health crisis did more than shut down businesses and schools. It also threw fuel on another crisis in America — the ongoing problem of child neglect and abuse.

The pandemic turned a known problem into one that we couldn’t see anymore as schools went virtual and millions of children were kept at home, away from the watchful eyes of teachers and closer to potential abusers.

As a result, child abuse reports, investigations and substantiated cases all plummeted nationwide, while emergency rooms saw more severe cases of abused children. 

When schools reopen this fall, the child welfare community is bracing for a dramatic increase in the number of abuse reports. For The Children is taking action to counter this expected tidal wave. 

We have not only activated our network of thousands of trained volunteers, but we also compiled and released a helpful guide for spotting abuse. Click here to download “A Community’s Guide to Identifying Child Abuse.”

We have all heard the term: “If you see something, say something.” Eliciting the public’s help in watching out for suspicious behavior has worked well for other causes such as combatting human sex traficking. 

It’s time we raise the flag for neglected and abused children.

So, what can one person do? A lot, actually. All it takes is one person to notice and save a child from abuse or neglect. Children and teens in crisis need someone who they can trust to turn to. YOU may be that person for a child who is in danger.

Staying alert and spotting abuse or neglect should be a collaborative effort among all of the authority figures in a child’s life: parents, relatives, caretakers, teachers, pastors, doctors, coaches, neighbors, babysitters and others. It takes a community. That’s why we called our guide a “A Community’s Guide to Identifying Child Abuse.”

Please note: While we believe it is critical for all community members to know the signs of child abuse and neglect, it is equally critical to utilize the Child Abuse Hotline (1-800-422-4453) to report the suspected maltreatment. While we must be conscious citizens, we must also be responsible ones. If you or someone else is in immediate and serious danger, call 911.⁠

While the popular image of child abuse is bruises and broken bones, those represent the most severe cases. Cases of neglect are much more common — and harder to spot.

In fact, national data shows that between two-thirds and three-quarters of the cases that end up being substantiated are for child neglect.

The signs and symptoms of neglect are more subtle. It could be persistently dirty clothes, bad personal hygiene, or frequently missing school or coming in late. During the pandemic, teachers and other authority figures lost the in-person connection they had with their students. Being able to spot these subtle signs through a small screen is extremely difficult.

Abuse does not need to be physical to be harmful. Emotional abuse and neglect can leave deep, lasting scars on young children, leading to behavioral problems that go well into adulthood.

Pre-COVID, it was already difficult to spot signs of abuse or neglect. The pandemic made it nearly impossible. 

But of course, we know that it happens. According to federally compiled statistics, CPS agencies nationwide received an estimated 4.4 million referrals involving the alleged maltreatment of approximately 7.9 million children in 2019.

More than half of referrals were deemed appropriate for an investigation by CPS. Nearly 17% of children that were investigated were found to be victims of abuse or neglect — a rate of 8.9 per 1,000 children in the population.

Your vigilance could prevent a child in YOUR community from becoming one of these statistics. Download our guide today and join our volunteers to keep our children safe.


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