Missouri Department of Social Services

ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com) -- Missouri Governor Mike Person is urging people to still report child abuse cases in the state despite being focused on the coronavirus outbreak, as state officials say staying in isolation may increase the risk on a child's safety. 

His message comes after the Department of Social Services (DSS) announced it has seen almost a 50 percent drop in child abuse and neglect hotline calls since March 11. 

"This dramatic drop in hotline reports is truly alarming,” Parson said. “I know Missourians are very focused on COVID-19, but we must remain vigilant in our efforts to ensure every Missouri child remains safe from abuse and neglect."

In a press release, officials with DSS said Missourians need to be especially attentive to the safety and wellbeing of children. Officials worry child abuse and neglect may increase with isolation and the growing pressure on families amid the outbreak. Anyone who suspects a child may be in danger should call the hotline at 1-800-392-3738. 

"This low number of calls is very abnormal for the hotline and our worst fear is that children are unsafe while at home," Jennifer Tidball, the acting director of DSS, said. "Teachers and child care providers are mandated reporters of suspected child abuse and neglect and are often our state’s best radar on a child’s wellbeing because children are in school or at child care each day."

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