We are taught as children that we can trust our parents, our teachers, our religious leaders, the police, the mayor, and the President of the United States. It is their duty to care for us, to mean us well, and to do only good. We can trust them; until we can’t.
With the onset of the corona virus pandemic and the issuance of “stay at home” orders closing schools and businesses in many local communities, child abuse reports have plummeted across the country. The agencies, which provide support for families and children as abuse cases move through the justice system, reported serving 40,000 fewer children nationwide between January and June of this year than the same period last year, from 192,367 children in 2019 down to 152,016 this year, a 21% drop, according to the National Children’s Alliance, an accrediting body for a network of 900 children’s advocacy centers. Reports of abuse have declined dramatically, they say, not because it isn’t happening, but because with everyone “sheltering in place”, teachers, doctors and others have fewer ways of catching it.
“An 18-year-old sleeps in a doorway of a public building with nothing but a tattered blanket to shield him from the cold wind. He took little more than the clothes on his back when his foster parents demanded that he leave home. He hasn’t been in touch with his biological parents in years. None of his friends’ parents will allow him to spend a night on their sofa. And he’s unfamiliar with the nearest homeless shelter.” (Social Work Today, Vol. 19, P.24, Nadine Hasenecz, MSW, LSW)