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Valley child advocacy group reports spike in abuse amid virus outbreak

(Getty Images/Ulet Ifansasti)

PHOENIX — As families isolate at home amid the coronavirus pandemic, a Valley child advocacy group is experiencing an increase of reported abuse.

“We have always seen that in times of heightened national stress and times of heightened economic insecurity and stress, child abuse unfortunately is one of the things that is impacted and goes up,” said Rebecca Cooper, spokesperson for the Phoenix-based nonprofit group Childhelp.

The group’s National Child Abuse Hotline is reporting a 31% increase in people reaching out compared to the same time last year.

“Some of our first calls were students reaching out and saying to us, ‘School has always been my safe space. Where do I go now?’” Cooper said.

She added they also recently received a call about a health care worker in Phoenix whose out on the frontlines of the coronavirus pandemic.

“She had to go to work and had to leave her young children home with her boyfriend,” Cooper said. “He was stressed out and upset, and he beat both of her children.”

Childhelp has seen an uptick in calls, texts and online chat even as teachers, school staff and other people who usually report cases of child abuse aren’t seeing the children right now.

The increase has been most significant in texts and online chat activity, which Cooper said is what children usually use to reach out to Childhelp.

Those seeking to report child abuse can call or text the national Childhelp hotline at 1-800-4-A-Child.

There is also an online chat where those who reach out will be connected with counselors who can offer crisis intervention and referrals.

For all articles, information and updates on the coronavirus from KTAR News, visit ktar.com/coronavirus.

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