HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WDAM) - April is Child Abuse Awareness Month, and we take the time to remember what to do when it comes to abuse.
“The most important thing for Mississippians to understand is that every single person in our state is a mandatory reporter,” says Didi Ellis, the executive director of Kids Hub Child Advocacy Center.
Ellis says you don’t need all the facts to report child abuse.
“You don’t know how many times a report has been made on that child before, and you don’t know if this one report that you make out of caution, out of concern, is the one report that will change the course of where a child’s life is headed,” Ellis said.
Since the pandemic, abuse reports in Mississippi have decreased. Ellis explains her thoughts as to why this is the case.
“I think that the number of reports has gone down due to limited access to trusted adults for children to make disclosures,” Ellis said. “Limited access to trusted adults and professionals seeing kids and recognizing things and having concerns that they then report.”
Once COVID-19 restrictions are lifted, Ellis says reports will come to the surface.
“Think what we will see over the course of months to come is we will see kids that come forward about things that were happening during that time of quarantine and shut down,” Ellis said.
Ellis also wants to remind parents to talk to their children about a person he or she can go to in case they need to share a case of abuse.
If your child doesn’t have that line of communication, this is a good time to start.
You can call the hotline at 1-800-222-8000.
You can submit a report online that goes directly to the Mississippi Department of Child Protection Services or use the MDCPS App.
You can also reach out to Kids Hub for any additional information on child abuse.