BAKERSFIELD,Calif. — April is National Child Abuse Prevention month and many organizations in Kern County are advocating for the protection of children in potentially unsafe environments.
According to Childwelfare.gov an estimated 678,000 children were found to be victims of child abuse or neglect nationwide.
During the COVID-19 outbreak, there is a concern that child abuse will spike.
Louis Gill, CEO of the Alliance Against Family Violence and Sexual assault, reminds the community their services are free of charge for those in need.
"It’s very difficult when we have people in a small space and confined together," Gill said. "Then you don’t have your typical reporting entities interacting with them every day like schools, teachers, and people on the playground. Those are now not apart of their everyday life, so we are concerned that reporting is not happening as it normally would."
Gill is encouraging the community to practice Bystander Intervention. Bystander Intervention is when one sees a potentially dangerous situation and chooses to respond.
This could influence the outcome for the best.
The non-profit offers counseling, emergency placement, support groups, and more.
During the coronavirus outbreak, they are still providing these services.
"We have done our best to move everything we can to phone interviews and Telehealth. There are many things that still need to happen face-to-face," Gill said. "If there is an emergency situation we have people available at our facility 1921 on 19th Street. Everything from initial intake to counseling is being done through telehealth."
The Kern County District Attorney's office says thankfully they have not seen an increase of child abuse filings during the COVID-19 outbreak. This period includes January 2020 through March 2020.
April's reports are not yet available.
"We are just making sure we are making ourselves available we have an emergency hotline 327-1091," Gill said. "Anyone can call 24-hours-a-day and there is always a professional there who will get back to you."