Child sex abuse reporting down, COVID-19 to blame?

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SALT LAKE CITY, (ABC4 News) – It may seem like an encouraging trend. The number of child sex abuse cases are down for 2020.

“Right now for the year, we’re a little bit down from previous years,” said Sgt. Dan Moriarty with the the Unified Police Department’s Special Victims Unit.

Child sex trafficking and child sex abuse are typically reported at an abnormally high rate across the state.

In the Greater Salt Lake area, 1,198 cases were reported in 2018, with 1,208 cases in 2019 for comparisson.

These cases do include elderly abuse, but officials say those cases are typically low.

“We’ve had some slow months particularly April and May were down considerably,” said Moriarty. “We probably lost about 60-70 cases during that time period that we normally would have had. I think Covid was behind the major portion of the lack of reporting because the kids were out of school.”

In 2016, the Utah State Legislature passed the Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Law.

In 2019, it was amended to include Human Trafficking Prevention.

According to the Utah State Board of Education, it was mandated for educators to do online training this year. Depending on the district, it maybe taken as one course or split into two.

The training must be offered to parents and students who have the option to opt-out.

If a student takes the course, a parent must give consent.

For this school year, an attorney for the Board of Education tells ABC4 “no waivers have been approved to the general training requirements” meaning no changes were made to abuse reporting to adapt to online teaching protocols due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

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