TEXAS – On paper, the rate of child abuse and neglect cases in Texas plummeted during the early months of the pandemic, with state officials reporting 8,000 fewer calls this April than the year before. But child advocates say reported cases only went down as schools closed and more kids were isolated at home.

A recent study from TexProtects, a child advocacy group based in Dallas, shows that abuse allegations typically go up when more people lose their jobs. Their projected estimates show that physical and emotional abuse in Texas may have increased up to 150 percent in the last few months.

“The risk factors that are most often associated with child abuse and neglect include family crisis and stress, mental health and substance abuse issues, family violence, and financial strain,” explained Sophie Phillips, CEO of TexProtects, during an interview with Capital Tonight. “And all of those things have increased during the time of Covid.”

Phillips also added that supporting families is critical in stopping child abuse and neglect. TexProtects plans to push the Texas Legislature next session to fund more preventive programs that they say will decrease those risk factors and keep families together.