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Reports of child abuse down amid COVID-19, as B.C. advocates remind public of duty to report

A screenshot from a new public service announcement from the BC Network of Child and Youth Advocacy Centres. BC Network of Child and Youth Advocacy Centres

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a increase in concerns over child abuse under the stay-at-home directives, but a substantial decrease in the number of cases being reported across the country.

That’s according to the BC Network of Child and Youth Advocacy Centres, which released a public service announcement on Monday to remind people about their legal duty to immediately report suspicions of child abuse.

“In a situation where you have a child living in a difficult situation and you add economic turmoil, you have to think their situation has worsened,” said Ginny Becker, executive director at the Child Advocacy Centre of Kelowna, which is a member of the provincial network.

“If you are concerned about a child being neglected, it your duty to follow your gut.”

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Child abuse reports down, concern high, Winnipeg advocacy group says

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The school system is often used to monitor children’s behaviour. Some schools are open to vulnerable kids, but many in B.C. have yet to return to the classroom.

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Becker describing the current situation as a “perfect storm,” but said there are ways the public can help.

If you’re concerned about a child, call the Ministry of Children and Family Development at 1-800-663-9122. Find your advocacy centre here or call VictimLinkBC at 1-800-563-0808 or email VictimLinkBC@bc211.ca.

If you are a child and need help, call the ministry’s helpline at 310-1234.

For immediate help, call 911.

Click to play video 'Child abuse reporting down in Alberta amid COVID-19 but agencies warn that’s not a good thing' Child abuse reporting down in Alberta amid COVID-19 but agencies warn that’s not a good thing
Child abuse reporting down in Alberta amid COVID-19 but agencies warn that’s not a good thing – Apr 28, 2020

The B.C. government lists some signs of child abuse as unexplained bruises or fractures, lack of proper hygiene, clothing inappropriate for the weather, sudden onset of nightmares or bedwetting, and becoming anxious and fearful after being outgoing and friendly.

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“This is common across the country right now. The reduction in reporting is quite alarming. It’s not like it’s not happening, it’s going underground right now,” Becker said.

“There is a pandemic of child abuse reporting expected after COVID-19.”