RANDOLPH COUNTY, N.C. (WGHP) — After a year of increased cases of child abuse, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper has signed a state budget that would allocate millions of dollars to help children recover.
Triad advocacy groups have seen a more than 30% increase in child abuse cases since the pandemic began.
Recently, more children have begun to open up about the physical and sometimes sexual abuse they’ve endured. Educators have also reported more suspected abuse to law enforcement and centers since students returned to school.
“The intensity of what we’re seeing is absolutely horrific,” explained Randolph County Family Center Director Dare Spicer.
Her organization and Emmy’s House in Asheboro primarily work with the sexual abuse victim process and emotionally work through the trauma they endured.
“The 178 kids we’ve seen since January have primarily been sexual abuse cases,” Spicer explained. “Over multiple instances, children can stop developing cognitively, socially. So how are you going to get that child back to where they use to be?”
The Randolph Family Crisis Center has seen a 32% increase in cases since before the pandemic and a 64% increase in cases during one quarter of the year.
Dragonfly House in Mocksville also reported helping 306 children between 2020 and 2021, most of whom were abused due to economic stress brought on by the pandemic.
High Point police data shows a rise in children seriously hurt because of abuse. There were three reported cases in 2019, however, there have been eight in 2021 thus far.
The number of abuses is expected to rise during the holiday months.
Spicer’s warning to families is to listen to their children.
“We have so many family gatherings. We don’t know. You never know. If a child does come to you during a family gathering and says ‘oh, someone made me feel uncomfortable, just listen to them…the longer the break is, the larger the increase is,” Spicer said.
The state budget allocates $7.6 million for Community Based Child Abuse Prevention.
Triad groups explained that money will go to pay the salaries of full-time nurses, doctors and therapists to help the child through the entire recovery process.
It will also be used to buy medical equipment to do on-site medical exams within a matter of hours as opposed to days.