Reykjavík City Council’s child protection services have received a record number of reports of child abuse this year. In April alone the agency received 468 reports involving 332 children. This is the highest number of calls received in a month since early 2018.
In April, child protection services dealt with:
- 220 reports of neglect
- 135 reports of behaviour which could put a child at risk
- 113 reports of violence involving a child
- 71 children deemed to be in “acute danger”
Authorities are also particularly concerned about a marked rise in domestic violence incidents. On average the agency received 18 reports of domestic violence per month in 2018 and 2019. However, the agency received 21 reports in March and 46 reports in April. Rates of domestic violence in the first four months of the year have not been this high for over a decade.
Reykjavík City Council also reports that incidents involving alcohol or drug abuse and children are projected to be 20-25% higher this year in comparison to 2019.
With schools closed due to the coronavirus outbreak, the number of teachers reporting cases fell to just over half of 2019 figures. However, the number reports made by police was significantly higher than in previous years. Two children also called child protection services directly, which is around the number the agency would normally expect.
Reykjavík’s child protection service has not commented on the cause of this dramatic rise in reports. However, many domestic abuse experts have warned that social-distancing measures during the COVID-19 pandemic are very likely to cause an increase in rates of domestic abuse.
Managing Director of Child Welfare in Reykjavík, stressed that domestic abuse will continue to be an issue beyond the coronavirus outbreak in a statement on the council website. He expressed hope that the current discussion about domestic violence will continue in the future.
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