Reports of child abuse grow as students return to class

New York News

ONEIDA COUNTY, N.Y. (WUTR) — When the pandemic started, the Oneida County Child Advocacy Center had fewer reports of child abuse. But now that places are reopened, the caseload is bigger than ever.

“We’ve had about 80 just this month. Kids are going back to school full time and they’re able to be around trusted adults and you know they’re not stuck at home,” said Kristi Marrotta, a victim advocate at the Child Advocacy Center.

Marrotta says that when victims are trapped at home with the abusers, they may not have anyone to ask for help. However, there are a number of key warning signs. “PSB or ‘Problematic Sexual Behavior.’ Those are sometimes indicative of a child who has been sexually abused. There’s also signs of acting out or becoming withdrawn, sometimes wetting the bed,” she said.

Marrotta said victims who are physically abused may have marks, cuts, bruising and other injuries. She said kids might “make an excuse about, you know, ‘I ran into a door,’ or that type of thing—you know, to protect their abuser. You know—ripped clothing or they’re skittish.”

Marrotta says it’s important to speak up and get treatment for those experiencing abuse so the cycle doesn’t repeat itself. “It’s not something you’re ever going to forget. It’s not something that’s ever going to go away, but they’re going to learn how to cope. And that’s something that I think we need, is to teach them how to cope with the trauma. That way, the cycle doesn’t continue.”

If you or someone you know experiences abuse, call 911.

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