‘You are Not Alone’ campaign designed to promote awareness about child abuse in Illinois
During the coronavirus pandemic, when families are secluded at home, calls to report suspected child abuse and neglect have decreased significantly across the country, and by 57 percent in Illinois compared to the same time last year.
To ensure that children know that it is never okay for anyone to hurt or neglect them, the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, DCFS, has launched the “You are Not Alone” campaign with the message: if someone is hurting you, we can help.
“A decline in calls to our abuse and neglect hotline does not mean that child abuse and neglect has decreased – in fact, with this pandemic many families are suffering from extreme stress,” said Marc D. Smith, the acting director of DCFS, in a news release.
“During this time when youth are at home, potentially with an abusive parent, and they don’t have a teacher, coach or other trusted adult to turn to for help, we want them to know they are not alone.
“If a child is being hurt or neglected, he or she can call us at 1-800-25-ABUSE and we will help. It is our responsibility to protect children who are reported to be abused or neglected.”
“Kids are smart and they see things adults don’t,” said DCFS medical director Dr. Margaret Scotellaro.
“My advice to them is to protect your siblings, your friends and yourself. If you or someone you know is hurt or in danger, make the call. Help is here.”
DCFS is partnering with the Illinois Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Illinois Department of Public Health, IDPH, to distribute posters in English and Spanish to pediatrician’s offices and IDPH health care facilities across the state.
“No child should have to endure abuse or neglect, and during these unprecedented times children may think that there’s nowhere to turn for help if they are in an unsafe situation at home,” said IDPH director Dr. Ngozi O. Ezike.
Anyone who is concerned about the health or safety of a child is can call the Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline at 1-800-25-ABUSE (252-2873).