Addressing Child Maltreatment During COVID-19

September 2020

The Texas School Safety Center knows our Texas educators are earnest and diligent in their efforts to protect the safety and wellbeing of every student. Although we cannot yet know the full scope of the impacts the coronavirus pandemic will have on our school communities, a particular concern reverberating across the nation is the increased potential for child abuse or neglect.

Educators play a critical role in identifying and reporting suspected child abuse cases. In 2018, education personnel were the leading professional report source (other professional report sources include, for example, childcare providers, law enforcement personnel, medical professionals), reporting 21% of an overall 4.3 million CPS agency referrals nationwide1.

With prolonged school closures, and extraordinary financial and social stressors on families, the potential for harm to children is heightened while the potential for educators to identify abuse is diminished.

To assist educators facing difficult situations during remote or in-person learning, we compiled a list of state and national resources toward preventing, identifying, and reporting suspected child abuse, neglect, and trafficking.

State Resources
Children at Risk Children at Risk is a Texas-based research and advocacy organization that educates and provides services designed to help prevent human trafficking, economic disadvantage among children, and abuses against children. Services offered include:
DFPS The Texas Department of Family Services provides Texas school and family specific information including:
OAG The Texas Office of the Attorney General focuses primarily on support for children, victims of crime, and consumer protections, highlighting:
  • Programs and services available to victims of crime
  • An initiative underway to reduce human trafficking, providing facts about human trafficking globally and in Texas, as well as action steps for individuals to reduce human trafficking
TEA The Texas Education Agency offers numerous resources pertinent to child safety, such as:
TxSSC The Texas School Safety Center also offers several useful resources including:
  • A free course on Sexting and Bullying Prevention that raises awareness and offers actionable steps to prevent those activities
  • Videos and facts about dating violence aimed to help inform educators and families about risks involved
National Resources
Childhelp Childhelp is an internationally renowned non-profit organization dedicated to helping victims and children at risk of child abuse and neglect. The organization offers resources for teachers including:
  • The Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline, 1-800-4-A-Child or 1-800-422-4453
  • Readings to share with students
  • An evidence-based prevention curriculum, Speak Up Be Safe
Loveisrespect Loveisrespect is a non-profit that originated from the National Domestic Violence Hotline (1-800-799-7233) and now focuses on engaging, educating, and empowering young people to prevent and end abusive relationships. They provide:
  • Educator Toolkits tailored to middle schools and high schools
  • Information about consent and how to talk to young people about healthy relationships
  • Quizzes designed to help individuals identify safe and healthy relationships
  • Information about how to safely intervene for others in unsafe relationships
NDVH The 24-hour National Domestic Violence Hotline, 1-800-799-SAFE (7233), provides resources for individuals in unsafe domestic situations or others trying to help those in unsafe situations, such as:
Polaris Project The Polaris Project is a non-profit focused on raising awareness, reporting, and providing resources for human trafficking including:
NHTH Concerns about human trafficking or coerced labor or sex work can be reported to the National Human Trafficking Hotline, 1-888-3737-888.
  • Access Safety Planning Information about online safety, suspicious or controlling relationships, and tips for helping individuals in dangerous trafficking situations
  • All resources and information are available in English and Spanish
NCMEC As a national and comprehensive reporting center, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children offers extensive information and resources pertaining to child exploitation, disaster preparation, and missing children such as:

References

1U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Administration on Children, Youth and Families, Children’s Bureau. (2020). Child maltreatment 2018. Retrieved from https://www.acf.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/cb/cm2018.pdf