JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — See something. Say something.
It is a call to action from Missouri's Department of Social Services and Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, reminding educators of the "increased importance of reporting child abuse and neglect," as children return to school, according to a news release from the state.
“Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline reports dropped by almost half when students were no longer in the classroom,” said David Wood, director of the children’s division. “School personnel are often the first to recognize a child may be a victim or at risk of abuse or neglect. That dramatic drop illustrated the huge impact educators have on keeping children safe as mandated reporters of child abuse and neglect under Missouri law.”
Teachers are mandated reporters.
“Reports to the Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline typically increase when educators reconnect with students after the summer break,” said DESE Commissioner of Education Margie Vandeven. “Missouri educators develop close relationships with their students, and a particularly troubling effect of the COVID-19 pandemic has been the significant decline in these reports – largely due to the limited day-to-day interaction between teachers and their students."
Anyone suspecting abuse or neglect can call the Missouri Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline at 800-392-3738. It is answered 24 hours a day, every day.