New campaign aims to keep children safe during coronavirus pandemic

The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services has noticed a nearly 60 percent drop in calls of suspected child abuse and neglect since the coronavirus pandemic began and in response, the agency is launching the “You are not alone” campaign with the message: “if someone is hurting you, we can help.”

One in five children is abused or neglected before they turn the age of 18 and 70% of child abuse goes unreported, according to DCFS.

Deborah Lopez, associate deputy communications director with DCFS, said one reason calls to report abuse dropped 57 percent from last year is because kids were not in school.

“The child is no longer among mandated reporters, for example, their teachers, their coach or other adults,” she said. “They are hunkered at home.”

DCFS is partnering with the Illinois Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Department of Public Health to distribute posters to pediatrician offices and health care facilities across the state and place the poster at children’s eye level.

“Kids are smart and they see things adults don’t,” DCFS Medical Director Dr. Margaret Scotellaro said. “My advice to them is to protect your siblings, your friends and yourself. If you or someone you know is hurt or in danger, make the call.”

If a child is being hurt or neglected, he or she can call 1-800-25-ABUSE.

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