The COVID-19 outbreak has cancelled classes for schoolchildren across the nation, upending traditional child abuse reporting methods.

With shelter-in-place orders in effect, children are no longer able to spend their days in the classroom. Teachers, who are traditionally on the front lines of reporting abuse, are not able to see their students daily and as a result reports of child abuse are down 70% nationwide.

Children may be trapped at home with their abusers. Neglected children may be left at home alone while their parents or caregivers head to work or other places.

A return to a traditional classroom setting is months away, so how can we protect our most vulnerable children?

In West Alabama, Child Abuse Prevention Services is stepping up to ensure the health and safety of our children. CAPS provides education and prevention programs for children and their families in an effort to break the cycle of child abuse and neglect, so that children can have a healthy childhood. If you believe a child may be at risk for abuse or neglect, please contact CAPS at 205-758-1159.

Child Abuse Prevention Services needs your help now more than ever. Please make a donation to CAPS' GoFundMe by clicking this link, and tune in to a special Town Hall broadcast from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. tomorrow night to learn more about CAPS and how you can help the agency continue its mission in West Alabama.

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