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Child abuse hotline shows decrease in calls during school breaks

Posted at 10:43 PM, Dec 14, 2022
and last updated 2022-12-15 00:43:19-05

COLORADO — As winter break is approaching for many school districts, the time at home can be troubling for some, especially children.

According to the Colorado Department of Human Services, calls to the child abuse and neglect hotline decrease during school breaks. In El Paso County, calls dropped by almost 15% from October to December during winter break last year and over 20% during summer break. Maureen Basenberg, the executive director of Safe Passage, said this drop is due to children not being around mandatory reporters of abuse and neglect at schools.

"Without kids having access to that safety net of school teachers and personnel, they're really lost in terms of their ability to have someone that they trust that they can tell," she said.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services shows over 80% of child abuse or neglect perpetrators are parents. Basenberg said that statistic is why mandatory reporters have an important role to play in a child's life.

"You just don't know when a kiddo is going to decide that they feel comfortable with you. And so, you know, knowing that you carry that responsibility is pretty important," Basenberg said.

Dawn Boden, the counseling services facilitator at District 11 schools, said every public or private school employee is a mandatory reporter, including teachers and coaches.

"Something we see before students go on break that we'll actually see sometimes an increase of students' anxiety," she said. "Our role is really validating them and supporting them and being there and listening to what they have to say."

Boden and Basenberg both said that people should always remain mindful of the children in their life, especially during changing times like school breaks when there is no contact with support systems at school.

The Colorado Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline is 844-CO-4-KIDS. All callers can stay anonymous and reports will remain confidential.
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