Officials worry as number of calls to Pennsylvania’s child abuse hotline drop

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio)  Pennsylvania officials say calls to Pennsylvania’s child abuse reporting hotline have dropped around 50% since the start of stay-at-home orders. But officials are concerned there’s an unseen increase in abuse. 

Abbie Newman, who runs Mission Kids Children’s Advocacy Center in Montgomery County, says during times of economic stress, there’s often an increase in child abuse. But that’s compounded by stay-at-home orders.

“Nobody has their natural stress releases. Kids are not out going to school, they don’t have their routine. Parents don’t have their routine,” Newman explained. 

In addition to the added stress, Newman says children aren’t around teachers, coaches, doctors, nurses or other mandated reporters — people who are required by law to report potential child abuse. 

She says everyone now needs to think of themselves as a mandated reporter.

“If you think that you are seeing something, call the state’s ChildLine hotline,” she said. 

She says it’s also important for parents to explain to children that they should never talk to anyone online who they don’t know, as predators will use online or videogame chats to groom potential victims.

She says it’s important parents set up chats or virtual play dates with people they know.

In addition to the state’s hotline, the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General has it’s safe2saypa.org website, where kids can relay tips about friends they’re worried about.

Newman adds that often, an adult might have a gut feeling but think if they call in a child abuse tip and they’re wrong, they could ruin another adult’s life. 

But she says everything is anonymous and there are protections in place. She says flip that around, and if the person doesn’t call and they were right, what effect it has on the child’s life.

The hotline number is 1-800-932-0313.