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Prevent Child Abuse Iowa says neglect is most common form of maltreatment—here's how you can help

While reports dropped off at the start of the pandemic, experts say they have since bounced back.

DES MOINES, Iowa — Child abuse organizations across the country saw a decline in reports at the start of the pandemic, but that trend has since been reversed.

"When the pandemic started, we saw an initial decline in reports from our pre-pandemic rates to about 50%," said Greg Bellville, the executive director of Prevent Child Abuse Iowa.

Bellville said those drops in reports didn't mean abuse stopped, but that kids were stuck in situations without a trusted adult. As children learned from home or spent time in quarantine, they didn't have people like teachers or coaches to turn to for help. 

"Kids were away from those mandatory reporters for a long time," Bellville said.

As schools reopened and activities returned, he said reports ticked back up to pre-pandemic levels. However, Bellville says pandemic pressures still exist for many families struggling to make ends meet, adding neglect is the most common form of child maltreatment. 

"Trying to untangle neglect from poverty is a really difficult thing to ask somebody to do," Bellville said. 

He said the average person can play a major role in helping children at risk, just by checking in with friends and family or even neighbors. 

"Getting to know them and checking and seeing how people are doing, particularly if you know that they're struggling."

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