BELMONT COUNTY, OH (WTRF) — April is Child Abuse Prevention Month. You may have seen blue pinwheels lining yards symbolizing that every kid has a right to a childhood, but where awareness is being spread, the expected calls are just not there.

The Belmont County Children Service Director says services are not stopping, but
abuse reports are down. This is disheartening to leaders who say abuse does not stop while the pandemic halts everyday life.

Stress levels are high, parents are without jobs, and now children aren’t heading off to school (or even to the playground). The trickiest part is due to social distancing orders, the average citizen may not be seeing things to report because children aren’t out and about.

Unfortunately, Belmont County is seeing what Ohio is seeing. Referral rates are down 50 percent right now, beginning in April. And that’s because what we do always begins with someone reporting to us what they see. And with children not being out in the public, we’re just not getting those calls.

CHRISTINE PARKER, Belmont County Children Services Director​

These first responders for children are still answering calls and going out with the Sheriff’s Department. And as their jobs continue, you still have a vital role in this.
While social distancing, you can still reach out and ask questions like: How are you doing?

…And if there is reasonable suspicion, you can still call. The national number is 1-800-4-A-Child. Or locally, you can reach out to Belmont’s Jobs and Family Services.

During Child Abuse Prevention Month there is usually a big luncheon hosted by Belmont Job and Family Services to honor those who bring support to the agency. But it has since been postponed.