L.A. County authorities say stay-at-home orders and school closures have created conditions that allow child abuse and neglect to go undetected.
LOS ANGELES (CNS) -- Resources are available to help victims of domestic violence and child abuse or neglect, Los Angeles County authorities reminded residents Monday, noting the number of domestic violence cases has been climbing amid stay-at-home orders.
Domestic violence calls to the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department are up more than 8% as compared with last year, Sheriff Alex Villanueva said. He urged residents who hear someone in distress to call authorities.
"Please call 911, and we will be there very, very quickly, and we will intervene," Villanueva said.
Services and resources are available around the clock, and domestic violence shelters are still open and accepting people. Victims in need of a referral can call the county's Domestic Violence Hotline at (800) 978-3600 or dial 211 at any time to get connected with services and support in their area.
OC authorities report 25% increase in domestic violence calls amid stay-at-home order
Emergency protective orders are still being issued, and additional information is available online at 211la.org/domestic-violence.
Anyone in a life-threatening situation should call 911 instead.
Authorities said stay-at-home orders and school closures have also created conditions that allow child abuse and neglect to go undetected.
Educators account for 20% of calls to child protective services nationwide, but now teachers, guidance counselors and daycare providers are no longer in a position to witness and report suspected abuse and act as a lifeline to children.
Social workers urged neighbors and others concerned about a particular family to help by doing small things to ease stress. That could include assisting in providing food or other supplies, like toilet paper or coloring books. Just listening can also help relieve stress, while virtual check-ins via phone, text or video can allow concerned individuals to be a supportive presence and watch for signs of distress, according to experts.
Social workers urged residents to form parent groups to conduct remote learning for children under 5, because younger children are at the highest risk for abuse.
Unless an immediate threat requires calling 911, all reports of child abuse should be made to the Department of Children and Family Services' Child Protection Hotline at (800) 540-4000.
Parents and caregivers seeking support can call (213) 336-2854 to speak to DCFS Preventive and Support Services staffers and get connected to community resources.
The Violence Against Women Act allows certain non-citizens, including spouses and children who are in abusive situations, to petition for lawful permanent residency. More information is available at the Department of Public Social Services website at dpss.lacounty.gov.
County authorities say many victims of domestic violence do not leave abusive situations because domestic violence shelters do not accept pets, and they and their pets are forced to endure abuse. L.A. County Animal Care and Control can assist pet owners who are experiencing safe housing issues. Pets can be confidentially placed in a safe animal center or with a foster home while victims are moved into safe living quarters and then later reunited with their pets. More information can be found at animalcare.lacounty.gov.
On Tuesday night, Councilwoman Monica Rodriguez and Peace Over Violence will host a Facebook Live, with experts sharing the services and resources available to victims and survivors in need during the safer at home order. To watch the discussion live, go to the councilwoman's Facebook page.