DECATUR, Ill. (WAND) - Local advocacy organizations reported a surge in abuse and neglect calls.

The Child 1st Center in Decatur said during the COVID-19 shutdown, child abuse and neglect hotline calls were down 60%.

"We would love to think the true reduction in child abuse, but it was actually a reduction in the reports coming in," explained Jean Moore, executive director of Child 1st Center.

For Dove Inc., director Teri Ducy said their hotline calls were coming in at a slower paces because of the stay-at-home order, but explained from March 16 to the end of the May, the organization saw an increase in 500 hotline calls.

"You know as things begin to open up a little bit it's a little bit easier for them (victims) to reach out, but this is a really dangerous time for them," Ducy said.

Both agencies agreed the shutdown was a perfect storm for abuse and neglect cases. Ducy explained abusers use isolation as one of their biggest tactics, so the shutdown was prime time.

"You add this pandemic on top of it with the stay at home orders and they are in the home with their abuser, there is a lack of support services and they haven't been able to see their regular support service networks ... it's not been safe."

Child 1st Center said it's important for families to talk with their kids about abuse and neglect, especially unwanted touching.

If someone suspects abuse and neglect, call 1-800-252-2873 for DFCS Hotline or call 217-423-2238 for the Dove Inc. Hotline.

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