Child abuse reports are falling, but nonprofit says pandemic may be to blame

Local News

Toys are placed on the steps of the Colombian Congress building to protest against sexual violence against children, in Bogota on November 20, 2018. – The protest aims to raise awareness on children’s protection responsibility and to encourage the denounce of child abuse cases before Colombian authorities. (Photo by DANIEL MUNOZ / AFP) (Photo credit should read DANIEL MUNOZ/AFP via Getty Images)

HONOLULU (KHON2) — April is National Child Abuse Awareness and Prevention Month.

Friends of the Children’s Justice Center of Oahu has released statewide statistics from 2020 that show a significant change in the number of reported cases of child abuse, exploitation, sex trafficking and children who witness a violent crime, as compared to previous years.

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The report’s findings suggest that the pandemic has likely caused the number of abuse cases to fall, while the types of requests made have also changed.

“The numbers tell a clear story,” said Jenna Tomas, Executive Director of the Friends of the
Children’s Justice Center of Oahu. “And the numbers don’t mean that child abuse and sex assault
declined across the state, it means that these cases are not being reported. During
2020, many of our keiki were out of school, families were under increased financial and
emotional stress, social interactions were limited between households, and that meant that
some keiki suffered in silence this past year.”

Friends of the Children’s Justice Center adds that in Hawaii, more than 50% of reported victims of crime are under the age of 18. The Center says, its nonprofit organization usually sees approximately 1,000 children per year.

“We needed to triage the types of cases that needed more immediate services,” said Jasmine Mau
Mukai, Statewide Director of the Children’s Justice Centers. “While the number of cases being seen at
the Centers have decreased due to the pandemic, the number of more severe cases is increasing.”

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