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In Florida, 20,000 Fewer Children Got Help for Abuse, Neglect at the Start of the Pandemic

Photo: Kulli Kittus
Photo: Kulli Kittus

The Florida Department of Children and Families got 40 percent fewer calls reporting child abuse in March this year compared with the same time last year. 

First Lady Casey DeSantis said at a press conference on Friday that that does not mean that children are immune to abuse and neglect. 

She says up to 20,000 children may not be getting the help they need. 

"20,000 less individuals being reported to the child crisis hotline. That’s 250 school buses packed full of kids one right after the other, that’s how many kids are not getting a chance to tell their stories."

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DCF Secretary Chad Poppell said that calls tend to go down during the summer months as mandatory reporters like teachers are not in contact with children. 

But he’s worried the five month break from school has made it hard for victims of abuse to get help and added stress for kids suffering with mental health problems. 

“I got to tell you the CDC study yesterday was a kick in the gut. When you start to think of a group of young folks, 18 to 24,  25 percent of them have thought about death by suicide in the last 30 days. That is unbelievable.”

[audio wav="https://www.wmfe.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/13005_SUICIDE_DANIELLE.wav"][/audio]

The CDC survey also found 75 percent of young people reported a mental health problem like depression or anxiety. 

If you or someone you know is experiencing physical, mental or emotional abuse call 1-800-799-7233 or if you’re unable to speak safely text LOVEIS to 1−800−787−3224.

If you'd like to listen to this story, click on the clips above.

Danielle Prieur covers education in Central Florida.