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WQAD.com

Social distancing measures can create conditions ripe for abuse

The Child Abuse Council says it's up to parents to be good neighbors and listen to their kids for signs of abuse at classmates' homes

MOLINE, Illinois — Each Spring, pinwheels remind us to be good neighbors and vigilant about hidden abuse. But most events set to take place in April for Child Abuse Prevention month have either been cancelled or postponed due to the coronavirus outbreak. 

"It is a lot more difficult this year, with everyone in their own homes and everyone kind of isolated from each other," said Brooke Hendrickx, director of development and communications at the Child Abuse Council.

She said social distancing measures can be exploited by abusers. 

"Abusers want their victims to be isolated. They want to keep people away," Hendrickx said. 

Meanwhile, economic uncertainty that comes with the outbreak can ratchet up tensions at home.

"In the typical situation where maybe Dad or Mom are out of work, the bills are piling up," said Moline Police Detective Jon Leach. "And you know, your child is being a child. They're crying, they're running around."

School is out, and it's not only a place where children can learn, play and get a nutritious meal. It can also serve as an escape for kids at risk of abuse.

But with more kids keeping in touch with one another through social media, screen time could be a good thing for once.

"Make sure your kids are staying connected, and then listen to your kids," Hendrickx said. "Their friends are going to tell them things first. So listen to what's going on around you, don't completely isolate yourself."