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Child abuse signs more apparent in Kern County

Need for CASA volunteers rising
Posted at 9:19 AM, Oct 28, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-28 12:19:08-04

KERN COUNTY, Calif. — Stay-at-home orders were in effect much of 2020 but home isn’t the safest place for children facing abuse or neglect.

"Children didn’t have those eyes on them that may have been able to observe those signs and make phone calls,” said CASA Executive Director Amy Travis.

The Kern County Department of Human Services said in 2019, before the pandemic, they responded to an average of 488 child abuse reports per month.

In 2020, that number dropped to 356.

So far in 2021, it has risen to 402, much of which has to do with kids being back in places like classrooms, doctors offices, or churches, where other people can notice signs of abuse.

So, Human Services Spokesperson Jana Slagle said it’s important for you to know what those signs look like.

“Young children having bruises and marks in areas that they wouldn’t necessarily fall in. Sometimes children are what we call sullen or very, very withdrawn. That could be a sign," said Slagle.

Kids may also be hungry or look dirty.

Travis said this rise in reports means a rise in the need for volunteers.

“We all have a part to play in watching out for children. They're very vulnerable, a lot of times silent, and so by giving them a voice, we can protect them," she said.

If you can’t volunteer, you can donate on CASA's website.

Slagle said you can also help by calling the Human Services 24/7 hotline at 631-6011.

“ We want to encourage people, if they see something, say something, we do, but we also want people to know there’s things we as an agency can also do to help," she said. "If someone calls us and the situation isn’t meeting jurisdiction of child abuse, then we do also get involved and refer those families for help.”

Click here to learn more about the Department of Human Services' resources.