It’s an issue that advocates fear may get worse as children and their families have been ordered to stay at home in an attempt to flatten the curve and stop the spread of COVID-19.
However, with isolation comes the potential increase of child abuse, neglect and domestic violence cases across Kern County.
“My fear [is that] some people are struggling to make ends meet,” Tom Corson, Executive Director for Kern County Network for Children said. “I don’t want kids home alone.”
Child abuse and neglect is at the forefront of concerns for local advocates such as Corson.
In 2018, 41 kids a day were referred to Child Protective Services. The majority of those reporting child abuse cases either worked or interacted with children on a day-to-day basis.
“Sometimes there’s a need for safe contact,” Corson said. “[Keeping] your social distance but we can’t forget about these kids right now.”
Tensions rising across the country, it’s not unusual for domestic violence advocates such as Louis Gill with the Alliance Against Family Violence and Sexual Assault to anticipate an influx of cases in Kern County.
“Any household where there’s been violence in the past,” Gill said. “There is a concern, and a greater likelihood of additional violence in a time like this.”
During trying times, people are encouraged to be good neighbors and be on the lookout for those more susceptible to violence inside their homes.
“Everybody has a phone in their hand,” Gill said. “One of the things you can [do is just] FaceTime the person so that you can see them.”
“I know we’re isolated,” Corson said. “But I know what’s going on with the neighborhood kids behind me, I know what’s going on with the seniors next door to me, the kids across the street.”
If you suspect child abuse you’re encouraged to call the Child Abuse Hotline at 661-631-6011.
The Alliance Against Family Violence and Sexual Assault hotline is 661-327-1091.