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Child Abuse Referrals Down as Social Distancing Orders Keep 'Mandated Reporters' from Kids
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WLVT - TV - Medical experts say children are less at risk of falling ill with COVID-19, but social distancing orders are making it harder for social workers to keep tabs on kids at risk of child abuse in the Lehigh Valley.

Northampton County reported it has seen a 50-percent drop in child abuse reports. It's a concerning trend that is playing out across the commonwealth.

"Child abuse is still happening but the people that are observing and can make those reports don't have the same access," said Michael Ramsey, a program supervisor at Valley Youth House, an organization that provides shelter and support for abused and homeless youth.

Ramsey says reports fall when mandated reporters like teachers and doctors don’t have face-to-face contact with kids.

Meanwhile, risk factors for abuse, including joblessness, food insecurity and stress, are increasing.

Julie Bator, the assistant administrator for the Northampton County Division of Children, Youth and Family says the county is still making home visits to at-risk families to follow up on reports, but she says even virtual check-ins with school teachers or others can help spot problems.

Bator says her office is open and ready to help families with resources like food stamps and unemployment applications.

PBS39 News Reports
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