KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The decision to delay sending children back to the classroom wasn't an easy one for Kansas City, Missouri, Public School leaders.
"I have to do everything in my power to try to not place our families, our students, or our faculty and staff in harm's way," Dr. Mark Bedell, KCPS superintendent, told 41 Action News on Monday.
But child advocates said the move is tough on children who might be vulnerable at home and won't be seeing their teachers even longer.
"If they suspect that a child is being hurt, they're required to pick up the phone and call," Lisa Mizell, president & CEO of the Child Protection Center, said.
Since the onset of COVID-19, the amount of reported child abuse has drastically plunged on both sides of the state-line – From just under 5,500 cases to about 3,000 in Missouri. In Kansas, caseworkers handled 1,900 reports in February to more than 1,200 last month.
But just because the law doesn’t require someone to call doesn't mean they can't.
"Pick up the phone and call," Mizell said. "That doesn't mean anything bad is going to happen to that family. But it gives someone the opportunity to go and offer them some resources that might be able to help them get through this tough time."
With parents now juggling much more these days, the Child Protection Center recommends that they establish a strong support system.
"That is someone that you can call and say, 'Today is hard, can you take the kids for half an hour? Can you talk me talk to me for a few minutes because I'm tired and I can't take it anymore,''Mizell said.
To report child abuse in Missouri, visit the Department of Social Services website or call 1-800-392-3738. To report child abuse in Kansas, visit the Department for Families and Children website or call the Kansas Protection Report Center at 1-800-922-5330.