ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ7) - As the coronavirus spreads, children are being required to stay home from school to stay safe.
But what if home isn't the safest place they can be? April is Child Abuse Awareness and Prevention Month.
Advocates for children in our hometowns say this April, because of the pandemic, they're concerned about what could be going on behind closed doors.
Christina Hatch, executive director of The Children's Trust, said Monday they are particularly concerned because this is a high-stress time for everyone. Plus, she said, children won't be in contact with other trusted adults, such as teachers, who are mandated reporters of abuse.
"That's our fear right now," Hatch said. "We have all these kids at home by themselves, their parents, their caretakers, and of course there's elevated anxiety. So we know that abuse can happen."
Hatch said they've already seen a rise in the number of emergency removals from unsafe homes and foster homes. One of her staff members reported 16 referrals in the past three weeks, a number she typically sees in three months.
Hatch wants to remind all parents that there are resources available to help you care for your children during this stressful time.
More information can be found here.
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