Reported child abuse cases in the state are on the rise.
That’s according to a new report this week from the State Department of Human Services.
The DHS released their child protective services report for 2021 and even though we’re seeing an increase in reported child abuse cases, due to the pandemic, officials say they’re not surprised.
“We did see a decrease in 2020 and a return in 2021 close to pre-pandemic levels.”
This is Jon Rubin the Deputy Secretary for the office of Children, Youth and families in Pennsylvania.
Rubin says in 2020 there was a decrease in child abuse reports because they are dependent on the public to report abuse.
“We rely on the public to be the ears and eyes for our work.”
Rubin says the single largest reporting source is from schools, but also…
“We do see other social service agencies, law enforcement, neighbors, really even local youth programs; anybody that cares about the child and comes into contact with children.”
Now nine months into 2022, Rubin says early data shows a slight increase in child abuse cases from last year.
“In 2021, we saw a little over 38,000 reports of child abuse with just over 5,000 of those reports substantiated. We were pre-pandemic levels just over 40,000 but also around 5,000 reports that were substantiated.”
Patricia Berger, the Director and Forensic Interviewer from Western Pa Cares, handles cases in Jefferson and Clarion County.
“On average, during a years time, we see anywhere from 100 to 130 child abuse cases.”
And so far, this year Berger says there are 59 reports of child abuse in Jefferson County alone.
Other counties in our region are seeing the increase too.
Elk County saw the second highest amount of substantiated child abuse cases in the state just behind Forest County.
Officials say in most of the cases, the abuse comes from someone the child knows.
“When child abuse happens and when it occurs it tends to be from somebody that the child cared about and loved. And so there tends to be issues regarding trust and being able to really trust the people around you to care for you.”
The Department of Human Services encourages all Pennsylvanians to report child abuse by contacting child-line.