Officials report record number of child abuse cases as Georgia kids return to school

Fulton County, Ga. — Since kids have returned to in-person learning, investigators in Fulton County say they’re seeing a record number of cases involving child abuse.

“Between our Fulton and Dekalb centers , we are on track to see 800-900 kids this year,” said Sheila Ryan, CEO of the Georgia Center for Child Advocacy. “This year, I am anticipating that we’re going to have an all-time record number of children coming into center for services.”

Ryan spoke exclusively to Channel 2′s Michael Seiden minutes before signing off on the Fulton County Child Abuse Protocol, which was established for the county and the Atlanta Judicial Circuit for the investigation and prosecution of alleged cases of child abuse.

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“Last year, we saw a 20% increase in kids coming in for forensic interviews than we did the year before and this year, year to date, we are running another 20% on top of last year’s numbers,” she said.

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis also signed off on the protocol. She told Channel 2 that this was seven years in the making. She also explained how this protocol will help prosecutors, judges, law enforcement, educators, mental and health professionals and advocates work together to address this problem and make sure that victims receive justice.

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“Many, many days and hours have been spent in using the best and the brightest minds from every partnership agency to figure out what are the best practices so that we make sure that our children are taken care of,” Willis explained to Channel 2.

“These (child abuse) cases are the toughest to prosecute,” she added. “Children don’t communicate like we do. That’s why it’s so important for everyone to work together.”

Willis says the plan is to continue to update the protocol on an annual basis.

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When Willis took office in 2021, she wasted no time forming her crimes against children unit, a group composed of skillful lawyers and experienced investigators.

Georgia Center for Child Advocacy offers numerous resources.

For more information, check out their website HERE.