COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCBD) – Returning to school physically may be the best option for students despite the ongoing pandemic, according to professionals.
The Department of Social Services (DSS) saw a drastic decline in the number of child abuse reports within the first two months students were out of school, because of the coronavirus. This is why medical professionals and child advocates are pushing for students to physically return to school in the Fall.
In the month of April, DSS saw a 55% decrease in the number of child abuse reports coming into the agency’s hotline from April 2019, the decrease due in part to schools being closed.
Teachers and other instructional staff are considered mandatory reporters of abuse by state law and with students being out of the classroom they are also out of sight.
The SC American Academy of Pediatrics is pushing for students to return to school physically for its social and emotional benefits.
DSS says kids returning to school is important so teachers can once again have eyes on them, but the agency has been working in the interim to make sure the most vulnerable children are not forgotten.
“We actually saw that Summer drop two months early, we saw the decrease in calls for abuse and neglect not only for children but for adults as well,” said Connelly-Anne Ragley, SC Department of Social Services. “We worked with the Department of Education that had meal deliveries and bus routes for giving out packets so really encouraging teachers and food service staff to keep an eye on children.”
DSS says in a normal year the agency usually sees a decline in child abuse reports during the Summer, because students are on break.
DSS is encouraging you though to be on the lookout for signs of abuse and neglect since teacher interaction is now limited, you can find the information you need here to report abuse.