Child Abuse reports expected to rise with school returning

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HAMILTON COUNTY, Tenn (WDEF) – Since schools closed last march, officials say there had been a significant decrease in child abuse reporting.

“Every adult has the responsibility to protect children. Adults are the primary perpetrators of childsexual abuse and child abuse. Adults have the power to stop cycles.”

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Teachers make up the largest group of child abuse reporters in the United States. Officials say since students haven’t been inside the classroom since March the amount of reports have dropped by more than 50 %. 

Officials have already seen a rise in the number of reported cases in July , so they are expecting a dramatic increase in reports when schools reopen. 

“What we predict to happen with our number is that there will be an influx once kids get back to their normal routines. The callers we were getting through the thick of the pandemic when everyone was sheltering in place were from law enforcement and medical professionals because those were the folks seeing kids,” Kristen Palvik McCallie, Executive Director of Child’s Advocacy Center.

The Child Advocacy Center says they are working to train teachers on how to recognize the signs of child abuse whether they see children online or in the classroom.

“Because we are continuing this online life, teachers are getting a peek into the kids houses.Which they may not have gotten before and you can see a lot of different things, behaviors and conversations,” says Palvik McCallie. 

Officials say when teachers have strong relationships with their students it can help the child feel safer about asking for help.

“The way kids disclose is not beginning, middle and end. They are going to test and see and use their own language. For adults it might not be necessarily seeking out particular signs but so more of making yourself an adult that that kid feels comfortable coming to,” says Palvik McCallie. 

If you suspect a child is being abused, call the Child Abuse Hotline Number 1-877-237-0004.

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Joeli Poole joined the WDEF News 12 Team in April 2019 as a Reporter and Producer. You can find her reporting during the week and when not on camera; she's producing the 6 and 11 shows. Joeli grew up with a love for reporting, starting in middle school. She has been the anchor for her middle and high school TV stations, along with the Sports Anchor for her College TV Station. Joeli grew up in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and moved to Tennessee when she 10 years old. She went to Cleveland Middle school and Walker Valley High School. She graduated in May of 2019 from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga with a bachelor's degree in Communications. Being from the area, Joeli loves being able to help tell the stories of her community. In her spare time, Joeli enjoys watching her LSU Tigers, hiking, and playing with her dog. Feel free to email any story ideas at jpoole@wdef.com.