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Fewer calls to Vt. child abuse hotline during pandemic

Published: Nov. 15, 2021 at 8:21 AM EST|Updated: Nov. 15, 2021 at 8:29 AM EST
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - Vermont’s hotline numbers show some kids were likely abused or neglected during the pandemic and no calls were made about it.

The calls to Vermont’s Child Protection hotline usually hover around 20,000 a year but dropped by around 5,000 calls in 2020:

  • 2018: 20,779
  • 2019: 20,078
  • 2020: 15,722

Mandated reporters, like teachers, weren’t in-person with their kids during the height of the pandemic, and teachers make up one-third of the people who call to report issues.

Aryka Radke, the deputy commissioner of the Vermont Department for Children and Families, says a dip in calls is concerning.

She says now that things are opening back up, calls are going back to what’s expected in a typical year.

“It is absolutely possible that there was abuse, that there weren’t calls, because we certainly notice a decrease in our call volume. But I guess what I’m saying is, it wasn’t such an explosion of abuse and neglect such that once people were able to call again, we didn’t have a spike over what was anticipated,” said Radke.

Radke says they have guidance online for how to assess a child’s well-being remotely.

She also says they used the resources they had, as the department was not given any significant pandemic money.

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