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Child advocacy centres concerned over decline of child abuse reports

The Caribou Child and Youth Centre in Grande Prairie is among many in the province that are concerned that COVID-19 isolation is leading to a sharp decline in the reporting of child abuse.

The number of interviews done in the first three months of 2020 was up by about 27 per cent from that time in 2019, which is the same as the rise seen from 2018 to 2019. However, as of March 18th, those stats have fallen to below where they were two years ago.

The sudden drop off has child advocacy centres worried isolation measures are creating a lack of opportunity for reports to be made.

“It doesn’t mean that there is less child abuse happening,” explains Buffy McIntosh with PACE Grande Prairie.

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McIntosh says in the summertime when youth aren’t accessing school or after school programs there is a tendency for reporting to go down. She adds the isolation measures put in place show that decline is happening months earlier.

“Part of the reason our statistics go up is a general increase of awareness in the community… more people recognize child abuse, sexual abuse, or domestic violence is not okay, and also there are resources in the community to go to.”

The public is being urged to learn how to recognize the signs of child abuse and to speak up for any victims. McIntosh says there are resources available online to help people in the community do so on the Alberta Child Advocacy Centre’s website.

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