LI nonprofit: Child abuse rising during pandemic despite steep drop in reported cases

The number of reported child abuse cases on Long Island has gone down during the pandemic -- but the numbers might not tell the full story.
Keith Scott with The Safe Center LI says during the stress of the coronavirus pandemic, more children are being abused. But he says the number of child abuse reports to police and other agencies has dramatically decreased.
"What we're seeing is an increase in potentially abusive head trauma cases among very young children," says Scott.
Scott says the drop in reports is because children aren't around people who are required by law to report suspected cases of neglect and abuse. Those mandated reporters under state law include teachers, doctors and school bus drivers.
"How can a mandated reporter report what they're not seeing?" says Scott. "Many of our cases come through school districts, medical professions, come through day camps, something else."
The stats in Nassau County back that up -- In April of 2019, there were 675 reports of child abuse, but in April 2020 there were 316, a 53% drop. In May, numbers further fell -- last year there were 811 reports, but in 2020 there were just 365, a 55% decline.
In Suffolk, child abuse reports in April decreased from 773 in 2019 to 359 in 2020 - a 53% decline. In May, reports decreased by 32% from the previous year -- 879 in 2019 and 595 in 2020.
Scott and others at The Safe Center's Child Advocacy Center have been holding webinars to help educate people about signs to look for.
"If you're hearing screaming and yelling a lot from your neighbor, don't turn a blind eye to it, there could be something going on," says Scott. "If there's a child you're seeing through Zoom or Skype and that child is usually free, speaking a lot, interactive, and out of nowhere they stop, or shut down when a certain adult walks in the room, that could be an indicating behavior."