As the COVID-19 pandemic lingers, it has been difficult to focus on other issues that continue to be present in daily life. The First Lady of Arkansas, Susan Hutchinson, joined her husband today during his COVID-19 update to raise awareness about child abuse.
April has been designated National Child Abuse Prevention Month in the United States since 1983.
“We want to bring attention to it, at least in this one month out of the year, because with or without a virus maltreatment of our children does go on,” she said.
Hutchinson went on to encourage people to be aware of warning signs and report any suspicions of child abuse and neglect to the Arkansas Child Abuse Hotline at 1-844-SAVE-A-CHILD (1-844-728-3324). Reports can be made by anyone at any time.
Mischa Martin, the director of the Division of Children and Family Services, also spoke about the issue of child abuse.
“As you all know that child abuse and neglect does not stop during a pandemic. Our DHS Children and Family Services frontline staff continue to keep children safe and help families under difficult circumstances,” Martin said. “Our staff, along with our partners at the Children’s Advocacy Center and the Crimes Against children division at Arkansas State Police continue to have face-to-face contact when necessary to ensure and assess the safety of our children across the state.”
There have been more than 3,000 calls made to the Arkansas Child Abuse Hotline since the beginning of the pandemic. According to Martin, that number is a 50-percent increase from the same time period last year.
“Our children are not coming into contact with as many professionals who normally report abuse and neglect, so we need your help in the community. If you suspect abuse or neglect, please call the hotline,” said Martin. “I understand that it may be a difficult decision to get involved, but we need your help and, more importantly, our children need your help.”
In addition to the Arkansas Child Abuse Hotline, the Mental Health & Addiction Services Support Line at 1-844-763-0198 and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 are available to anyone who may need help.