Prosecutor, Children’s Advocacy Center Warn About Child Abuse Reporting During Pandemic

The Berrien County Prosecutor’s Office and the Children’s Advocacy Center of Southwest Michigan are sounding the alarm about child abuse cases during the COVID-19 pandemic. The center’s Allie Kibler-Campbell tells WSJM News there has been a substantial decrease in reports of child abuse since the pandemic started and schools closed.

“The biggest reason is probably because children are more isolated,” Kibler-Campbell said. “The majority of reports of abuse come from school administrators and school personnel.”

Kibler-Campbell says while the pandemic has created a great deal of distress, incidents of child abuse in homes have likely gone up. That’s not all.

“The cases of abuse that have been coming through are more severe than they have been in the past, meaning that a lot of the cases of abuse that are less severe are going unnoticed more because there’s nobody there to be recognizing those early warning signs.”

Kibler-Campbell and Berrien County Prosecutor Michael Sepic are reminding everyone of their duty to report suspected child abuse. Kibler-Campbell says those in some professions, like healthcare workers and clergy, are mandated reporters, meaning they legally have to report signs. She notes just reporting suspected abuse is not the same as making an accusation, and all reports are kept anonymous. Reports can be made to the state’s hotline, the Central Intake Hotline. The number is 1-855-444-3911.