Keep Kids Safe

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Survivors of Child Abuse and National Leaders Call on Congress for COVID-19 Relief

Bi-partisan support and funding can help protect children from abuse.
June 25, 2020 – Child abuse advocates along with national, state, and local organizations ask Congress for at least $300 million in emergency funding to strengthen child safety and protection programs in the next COVID-19 Relief Package.

State and local leaders across the country are working hard to continue vital child welfare prevention and intervention services during these extraordinary times, but they face major challenges, so Congress must act now to address these needs.

“The unfortunate reality for some children is that home is not safe under normal conditions. However, according to a 2019 study, stress associated with a disaster, or in this case a pandemic, can lead to higher rates of both domestic violence and child abuse,” said Katelyn N. Brewer, Darkness to Light President & CEO. “Children may be quarantined with their abuser and COVID-19 has forced those children to be separated from educators and administrators, responsible for 52% of child abuse reports in the US. We need Congress to take action in the next relief package.”

Even before COVID-19, child abuse resources were limited, the child welfare system was overwhelmed, and there were longstanding structural barriers making it more difficult for Black and Indigenous communities to access critical services. Strengthening the system to face these challenges requires a comprehensive approach that addresses the entire child welfare continuum. The requested funding will protect children and adolescents from violence by reinforcing and expanding programs that not only prevent child abuse and protect children, but also provide trauma-informed care and services that help abused children heal and seek justice.

This initiative, known as Keep Kids Safe, brought together leading child protection organizations, Darkness to Light, Together for Girls, Child USA, and National Children’s Alliance, along with child sexual abuse survivors. Keep Kids Safe is also asking the public to support this effort by signing the advocacy letter, reaching out to their representatives, sharing their support on social media, and learning how to prevent violence against children.

To see a copy of the letter, sign the petition, and learn more about the Keep Kids Safe Initiative, visit www.keep-kids-safe.org.

COVID-19 Child Abuse Statistics:
Approximately 200,000 cases of child maltreatment went unreported in the months of March and April due to school closures amid the pandemic.[1]
During March and April, calls to Washington state’s child abuse hotline were down approximately 50%.  Montana, Oklahoma, and Louisiana reported a reduction of around 45%.  Experts believe the dramatic drop in calls is due to children remaining out of sight from mandated reporters, such as teachers.[2]
This April, there was a 400% increase in reports of child cyber abuse compared to April 2019, according to data from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.[3]
Up to 66% of all child abuse and neglect cases go unreported.  Experts predict this statistic has and will continue to increase under stay-at-home orders.[4]
[1] https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3601399
[2] https://apnews.com/dddcb6934b5913445f36fd3187644e0f
[3]  https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2020-05-21/child-sex-abuse-and-exploitation-surge-online-amid-pandemic-overwhelming-police
[4] https://www.npr.org/sections/coronavirus-live-updates/2020/04/06/827908402/global-lockdowns-resulting-in-horrifying-surge-in-domestic-violence-u-n-warns

About Darkness to Light
Darkness to Light is a nonprofit organization with the mission to empower adults to prevent child sexual abuse. Through education and awareness, the organization seeks to create a safer world for children to grow and thrive. Darkness to Light’s flagship program, Stewards of Children®, is an award-winning training that teaches adults to prevent, recognize, and react responsibly to child sexual abuse. More than 1.9 million adults including educators, youth serving professionals, organization volunteers, and community members have been certified in the program. Stewards of Children® is the only evidence-informed training of its kind, with the largest network of child protection advocates in the world as facilitators. For more information, visit www.D2L.org.

Media Contact:
Gwen Bouchie
Darkness to Light
843-513-1623
gbouchie@D2L.org

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