SALT LAKE CITY — April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month and doctors at Intermountain Healthcare are addressing the increase in child abuse cases brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Official data for 2020 has not been released yet, but healthcare professionals suspect a high rate of child abuse occurred last year.
Intermountain Primary Children’s Hospital has planted more than 1,800 pinwheels in honor of children who have died as a result of child abuse nationwide. Each pinwheel represents a child who died at the hands of caregivers.
According to a report by the Children’s Bureau (Administration on Children, Youth and Families, Administration for Children and Families) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, an estimated 1,840 U.S. children died from abuse or neglect in 2019 - a rate of 2.5 per 100,000 children in the population. The national estimate is a 10.8 percent increase from the 2015 estimate of 1,666 deaths.
Experts are concerned that some children who were abused last year may not have been as likely to report the abuse because they were away from the safety net of in-person school attendance.
“[Child abuse] rates are remarkably stable from year to year. And then when the pandemic hit, all of a sudden it seemed like the floor dropped out. We weren't having any cases coming into clinic,” said Dr. Antoinette Laskey, University of Utah Health and Intermountain Primary Children’s Hospital.
There are 26 Children’s Justice Centers available to help victims of child abuse in Utah.
More Child Abuse Prevention Resources:
- Utah Child Abuse Prevention Hotline - 855-323-3237
- Prevent Child Abuse Utah Website
- 2021/22 Abuse Prevention Resource Guide [PDF]
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Child Welfare Information Gateway