BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — While the pandemic has forced more people to spend time at home, agencies that work to protect children from child abuse have been concerned about the lack of interaction between children and mandated reporters, such as teachers and counselors.
The Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of Kern County said they are bracing their volunteers for the upcoming return to school.
"I feel as schools reopen, we're definitely moving in the right direction to making kids safer," said Amy Travis, Director of CASA of Kern County.
Back in July, a 23ABC I-Team investigation uncovered that calls of child abuse since the beginning of the pandemic have dramatically dropped.
Data from the Kern County Department of Human Services show in April of 2018, there were 1,228 reports. In April of 2019, there were 1,275 reports. This April, however, there were only 567 reports.
That data also showed in May 2018, there were 1,172 reports. In 2019, there were 1,328 reports. This year, though, there were only 685 reports.
Travis says they've seen similar drops in reports in her organization. But with Kern County in the red tier and schools moving toward reopening, CASA is expecting to see those numbers increase.
"You have to understand that a painful fact of reality is that people do abuse their children. And in times of uncertainty and in stress, that level of abuse increases significantly," Travis said.
This month, CASA is holding its "Spooktacular" Superhero Run in a virtual setting. You can still register for the run now through Oct. 31. To sign up, click here.