Coronavirus Illinois: Kane County child abuse cases increase dramatically during stay-at-home order

KANE COUNTY, Ill. (WLS) -- As Americans isolate at home during the COVID-19 pandemic, officials say child abuse and neglect cases are on the rise.

The spike comes as families shelter together at home and isolation makes abuse more challenging to detect, McMahon said.

Kane County reports a 139 percent increase in the number of juvenile abuse and neglect cases in March and April of this year compared to the same time last year.

Teachers, guidance counselors and daycare providers are most likely to report child abuse but kids are not seeing those advocates during the pandemic.

"It could be days, weeks, and I hope it's not months before outside independent eyes have a chance to visit with these kids," said Kane County State's Attorney Joe McMahon.

Although child abuse reports are up, the reporting of child sexual abuse has dropped by 50 percent in Kane County, said Deb Bree, the executive director of the county's child advocacy center.

"The child might be locked in the home with the abuser all day," said Bree. "So they're unable to show signs of distress or express any feelings of being unsafe."

The Department of Children and Family Services hotline is taking calls 24 hours a day during the pandemic.

The agency says they are responding to hotline calls with face-to-face contact within 24 hours to assess child safety.
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