Child abuse doesn’t stop during a pandemic, it gets worse and during this period of social distancing, concern for children’s safety is growing. This is especially true considering the latest numbers for child neglect and abuse from the Arizona Department of Child Safety. DCS has reported 2,081 reports of neglect and 794 reports of abuse in the month of April. In light of these numbers and concerns, State Senator, Victoria Steele, (LD-9 Tucson), gathered child advocates from across Arizona and created a statewide initiative to help keep children safe. It consists of a public information campaign urging caring adults to take action when they have concerns for a child’s safety.

“We want everyone to take responsibility for the safety of children, Steele says. If you see a child being hurt – call 911 or 1-888-SOS-Child so the authorities can make sure that child is okay. If you suspect abuse but you’re hesitant if it rises to the level of a 911 call, then give a call to the local warm line such as the Children’s Advocacy Center of Southern Arizona at 520-771-2039 or the national ChildHelp hotline 1-800-4-A-Child.” Trauma-informed counselors will take your call or text and talk and provide counseling, information and resources.

Children are specifically vulnerable to abuse and neglect during COVID-19. The CDC reports that at least 1 in 7 children have experienced child abuse and/or neglect in the past year and in 2018, nearly 1,770 children died of abuse and neglect in the United States. The unfortunate truth is, not all children are safe at home and since children are not going to school, teachers and school counselors are unable to witness the signs of abuse and report to the proper authorities.

Marie Fordney, Executive Director of Children’s Advocacy Center of Southern Arizona said, “One thing I love about Arizona is how we take care of one another, especially when someone needs help. Calling the experts when there might be a problem is one way we can all take care of the children in our community.”

The Child Abuse Prevention Initiative will provide online, phone, chat, and text support to children who want someone to talk to about what they are experiencing. If they are being abused the

counselor will be able to get them to the Department of Child Safety Hotline and stay on the call with them to give them support. The initiative will also get the information out to schools, teachers, coaches, pediatricians, and others so they can help distribute flyers and online information to children and families. Examples of such materials are below.

Organizations involved in the initiative:

  • Southern Arizona Children’s Advocacy Center
  • Children’s Action Alliance
  • Arizona Coalition to End Sexual and Domestic Violence
  • Arizona Department of Child Safety
  • Arizona Department of Education
  • Emerge! Center Against Domestic Abuse
  • Arizona Child and Family Advocacy Network
  • Child Help
  • Governor’s Office of Youth, Faith, and Family
  • Pima County Office of Children’s Council
  • Pima County Attorney’s Office
  • Maricopa County Attorney’s Office
  • Amberly’s Place
  • H.A.V.E.N. Family Resource Center
  • Maricopa Family Advocacy Center
  • Mesa Family Advocacy Center
  • Navajo County Family Advocacy Center
  • Northern Arizona Care and Services After Assault
  • Pinal County Attorney Family Advocacy Center
  • Safe Child Center
  • Salt River Indian Community Family Advocacy Center
  • K.A.A.P. Child & Family Advocacy Center
  • Scottsdale Family Advocacy Center
  • Yavapai Family Advocacy Center
  • Fort Huachuca CID
  • Davis Monthan AFB Family Advocacy

For more information contact:

State Senator Victoria Steele – LD9 Tucson (602) 926-5683 VSteele@AZLeg.gov
Children’s Advocacy Center of Southern Arizona – ​https://www.sacacenter.org/​ Marie Fordney – mfordney@soazadvocacy.org​ (520) 771-2039
Arizona Child & Family Advocacy Network – ​http://acfan.net/​ ​Trevor Umphress (928) 750-3583 ChildHelp – ​https://www.childhelp.org/childhelp-hotline/