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Abuse Reports Up as Economy Falters

October 3rd, 2008 by flanews

Floridas struggling economy could be to blame for a 25 percent increase in calls to the states abuse hotline. About 1,200 people call the hotline every day, up from 900 in December of 2007. As Whitney Ray tells us, three out of every four calls requires special attention from a case worker.

Hear it Here: Abuse Hotline Calls On The Rise

For every councilor working at Floridas abuse hotline, a ringing phone represents a life in turmoil or a child in danger. Councilors are working to keep up with a skyrocketing number of calls.

Secretary of the Department of Children and Families George Sheldon said financial stress is contributing to the increased call load.

This is a tough time for folks, theyre uneasy, theyre losing their jobs. Theyre trying to figure out how to take care of their family. Too many times they turn to alcohol or substance abuse, said Sheldon.

Councilors say the hardest calls they get are from children, especially when the kids life is in danger. Those calls get immediate attention.

Juanita Belcher said some calls are hard to get over.

A couple of weeks ago I had an injured baby, abused by a step father. It had cigarette burns. That stayed with me, said Belcher.

Jamie Valdes has been counseling victims for eight years. He keeps pictures of his children on his desk for inspiration.

The calls that we take sometimes are really bad, some of them are awful. Having these pictures are my sanity. Its knowing that theres love out there, said Valdes.

And for some the help they need is a phone call away. Calls to the abuse hotline have risen at about the same rate as request for food stamps. Calls to the abuse hotline are up 25 percent. Application requests to the food stamp call center are up 23 percent.

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