AMARILLO, Texas (KFDA) - The pandemic has kept many children at home, and with the return of school approaching, CASA is expecting to an increase of teachers reporting child abuse that went unnoticed during the past few months.
“Neglect happens in the home, so if you are not in the home, you don’t know it is taking place. That is why school is an area where neglect is noticed,” said Kelsi Vines, director of recruitment and training at Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA). “You noticed when students aren’t showing up or when they show up and don’t have what they need or are hungry, but when you are in a pandemic, and you are in a lock down, who is noticing they don’t have what they need?”
Although the court has seen a consistent number of cases at an average of 15 cases per month throughout the pandemic, they do expect a higher number once school starts.
“This year, of course, you have the stressing of the pandemic and people who have been confined at homes, so we would expect to see those cases increase certainly if school resumes in an in-person basis,” said Potter County Attorney Scott Brumley.
The pandemic also brings the parents the option for online learning. This is also a source of worry, as there won’t be regular supervision from a teacher trained to spot abuse.
Vines and Brumley say this increases the need for reliance on community members to be on the look out for indicators of abuse, more now than ever.
“It is not just the teachers problem to make hot line reports. It is everyone’s responsibility to look out for children, even if those aren’t your children. You can still look out for them and make the hot line report when you see something is not okay,” said Vines.
Given the expected influx, CASA says they are concentrating their effort in recruiting advocates now. It takes around a month for advocates to go through training and be approved, which is about the same amount of time left before school starts.
The director of the organization says this is the best time to become an advocate, as the training courses are all online due to the pandemic and allow you to complete them at your own pace. They are also in need of more male advocates, as there are more child abuse cases involving boys than girls.