Northern VA nonprofit reports more severe cases of child abuse during pandemic

A Northern Virginia child abuse prevention nonprofit reported a startling trend – an increase in the severity of cases.

"We can do better for families, we can do better for children," SCAN of Northern Virginia Executive Director Leah Fraley said Thursday, adding that while SCAN’s caseload has remained consistently high during the pandemic, "what we have seen is an increase in the severity of the cases."

That means more severe neglect, more severe physical abuse, and Fraley said, more sexual abuse.

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"One of the biggest risk factors for abuse is exactly what COVID presented. It’s being stressed out, being isolated, all of those things. The CDC kind of breaks down the risk factors for abuse. That’s number one."

And according to the CDC, this is not an isolated problem. They released a report last December, which found that while "the total number of emergency department visits related to child abuse and neglect decreased…the percentage of such visits resulting in hospitalization increased."

Fraley said a big part of the problem is less contact between kids and mandated reporters, like teachers, social workers, and physicians.

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"With those children being away from those mandated reporters, the cases that made it to the emergency room, right, the cases that made it to a police officer being called, just are more severe," she explained.

If you’re dealing with abuse or if you suspect abuse, you can find resources to help on SCAN’s website.