DSS, medical professionals urge mask wearing; push for return to school to prevent child abuse

Local News

COLUMBIA, SC (WSPA) – Returning to school physically may be the best option for students despite the ongoing pandemic​.

The SC Department of Social Services saw a drastic decline in the number of child abuse reports within the first two months students were out of school. So now medical professionals and child advocates are pushing for students to physically return to school in the fall.​

In the month of April, DSS saw a 55% decrease in the number of child abuse reports coming into the agency’s hotline from April 2019. The decrease is due in part to schools being closed​.

Teachers and other instructional staff are considered mandatory reporters of abuse by state law and with students being out of the classroom, they are also out of sight.

The SC Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics pushing for students to return to school physically for its social and emotional benefits. In a recent article the organization explained best practices and need for physical instruction.

DSS says kids returning to school is important so teachers can once again have eyes on them, but the agency has been working in the interim to make sure the most vulnerable children are not forgotten.

“We actually saw that summer drop 2 months early we saw the decrease in calls for abuse and neglect not only for children but for adults as well. We worked with the Department of Education that had meal deliveries, and bus routes for giving out packets, so really encouraging teachers and food service staff to keep an eye on children,” said Connelly-Anne Ragley.

DSS says in a normal year the agency usually sees a decline in child abuse reports during the summer because students are on break. Last week there was a 6% in calls from this time last year.

DSS is encouraging you though to be on the lookout for signs of abuse and neglect since teacher interaction is now limited. You can do that HERE or call 1-803-898-7669 (1-800-645-9789).

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