April 16, 2020

For National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, Missouri calls attention to need to support victims of crime as state battles COVID-19

Coronavirus may be reducing crime overall, but law enforcement agencies across nation report rise in domestic violence cases, drop in reports of child abuse and neglect

The coronavirus is having sweeping effects on virtually every aspect of American life, including crime. As Missouri observes National Crime Victims’ Rights Week from April 19 to 25, the Department of Public Safety is calling attention to evidence of a spike in domestic violence and a drastic drop in calls to report child abuse and neglect as the pandemic has spread across the nation.

Because of the coronavirus, Missouri will not hold its traditional Crime Victims’ Rights Week ceremony at the Capitol this year. Instead, Governor Mike Parson, Missouri state government, law enforcement and crime victim advocates are urging Missourians to be more vigilant than ever in reporting crime, including incidents of abuse, and working to support crime victims.

The Missouri Department of Social Services reports that since March calls to the state’s Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline have dropped by about 50 percent. The department’s Children’s Division is concerned social isolation and the unprecedented pressures parents and families are experiencing are elevating the risk for child abuse or neglect.

The Missouri Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline (800-392-3738) is answered 24-hours a day, every day, all year round. Callers can report anonymously.

Police departments in Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles and Seattle are reporting increases in domestic violence cases as more people stay at home, keeping some victims and abusers in close proximity for greater lengths of time. Experts say domestic violence is an underreported crime because of the reluctance of some victims to prosecute a partner and the inability to get away from their abusers to call law enforcement.

Sheriff Dave Marshak reported the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office experienced a 43 percent increase in domestic violence cases in March, compared to March 2019.

The Kansas City Police Department reported a decline in property crime in March, but no drop in violent crime overall, as well as a slight increase in domestic violence cases.    

Governor Parson has proclaimed April 19 to 25 as Crime Victims’ Rights Week in Missouri in honor of the continuing efforts of crime victims and victim advocates to make Missouri safer and more supportive of crime victims. 

The Department of Public Safety administers programs and grants for crime victims and agencies that assist victims, including the Crime Victims’ Compensation Program, the Sexual Assault Forensic Examination (SAFE) Program, the Sexual Assault Services Program Grant, the Child Physical Abuse Forensic Examination Program, the State Services to Victims Fund Grant, the STOP Violence Against Women Grant Program and the Missouri Victim Automated Notification System (MOVANS).

MOVANS allows all Missourians to receive automated texts, emails, phone calls or letters any time an offender is scheduled to be released from prison or jail, or have a parole or court hearing. It also allows anyone to receive an automatic notification any time an order of protection has been served in their case. In the last five years, MOVANS has delivered more than 4 million automated phone calls, emails, text messages and letters about offender custody status, court dates and protection order status.

The Missouri Crime Victims’ Compensation program helps pay crime victims’ out-of-pocket expenses, such as medical, mental health/counseling, funeral expenses, and lost wages. In the last five years, it has processed over 8,500 applications and awarded more than $24 million to victims and family members who were victims of crimes involving violence or the threat of violence. 



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