Unidentified child with their head down

Child abuse cases are increasing post-COVID.

Credit: Pixabay

Officials in Atlanta’s Fulton County have signed a multi-agency document outlining how child abuse cases — which are  rising in number — should be investigated.

State law requires all counties to update their child abuse protocol every five years to coordinate police, educators, health providers and others on the front lines of abuse.

Sheila Ryan, CEO of the Georgia Center for Child Advocacy says she expects her group to handle more than 800 cases this year.

“As we are running right now, I am predicting that we will have an all-time high for the number of cases of kids coming on,” she cautioned. "I think we will set a record this year."

Ryan said it’s unclear if cases are increasing because there’s more abuse or because children are disclosing it more, now that they’re around more trusted adults as activities return post-COVID.

"During the time when children were not in school in person, we saw a decrease in the number of cases that were coming in," Ryan said. "Last year, we saw a 20% increase over the previous year, and this year to date, we're running another 20% over last year."

To report suspected child abuse, call the Georgia Division of Family and Child Services Hotline at 1-855-422-4453 or find your local county office here.