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CYAC talks reporting child abuse while teaching virtually

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LEWISBURG W.VA. (WVVA) - Since teachers are mandated reporters, they are responsible for reporting many of the child abuse cases that are documented.

With schools being taught virtually, there is a decrease in child abuse cases being reported, according to the Child and Youth Advocacy Center (CYAC).

"In the early days of the pandemic, we definitely saw a decrease in cases coming in as kids were very isolated from the adults in their life who would typically report these kinds of incidents," said Staci Russell - Teaney, the executive director of CYAC.

Teachers not being in the classroom with students, makes it difficult for them to look out for the physical signs of abuse.

Francesca Zarcone, the Community Education Coordinator at CYAC said there are other signs that teachers can look for when working remotely.

"Just being able to look at their [students'] physical well being [and] trying to see if they're giving any non-verbal clues, where they either look anxious or just not settled in their home [and] seeing if the child is regressing to behaviors they've previously outgrown, as usually children who have experienced trauma will regress," said Zarcone.

While these are all steps teachers can take, Zarcone says communicating with students is most important.

"Ask them how everyone's getting along at home," said Zarcone. "Ask them how they're passing their time [and] try to get a general feel of how they're doing when they're not in a physical classroom with you."

She says taking these steps are necessary because often children who are victims don't see anyone except their teachers.

According to Russell-Teaney, paying attention to the signs and taking the steps to report anything suspicious is something everyone should be doing.

"It's all of our jobs to look out for kids," said Russell-Teaney. "They don't always have the voice to do it for themselves, so all of us adults in society, it's all of our jobs to look out for the kids and if anything makes you nervous, or upset, or suspicious is going on with that child, it's always our job to make sure that child is okay."

If you suspect a child is being abused, you are encouraged to call the Child Protective Services hotline at 1 (800) 352-6513. You could also call the CYAC in Lewisburg.

If it is an emergency situation, you are encouraged to call 9-1-1.

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Maria Sellers

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