SARASOTA, Fla. (WFLA) — As schools in Florida prepare to openin the coming weeks, Gov. Ron DeSantis said they should take a“surgical approach” to respond to any possible COVID-19cases.
DeSantis made the comments while answering questions fromreporters at a roundtable in Sarasota on Friday. The governor,appearing with First Lady Casey DeSantis, was highlighting thesecondary issues kids are experiencing due to the COVID-19 pandemic– including mental health struggles and drastic decreases inreported physical and sexual abuses.
“There’s been a 40% decrease between March this year vs.March 2019,” Casey DeSantis said about the reduction in childabuse calls to state hotlines. “A 44% decrease in child abuseinvestigations and a 32% decrease in sexual abuse callallegations.”
Gov. DeSantis said he also said he thinks “we’re gonna bedealing with ramifications involving mental health for a longtime” after the pandemic is over.
The roundtable included other children’s advocates and healthprofessionals. They spoke about the difficulty in discovering childabuse and sexual abuse cases without the involvement of teachers inkids’ lives for the past four to five months.
“That’s just one aspect,” DeSantis said. “There’s alsosocial development, academic development – all these otherthings.”
“I also think it would be really bad policy to deny those manyother parents the opportunity to resume in-person instruction fortheir kids,” DeSantis added.
The governor said the risk to kids is higher from influenza thanCOVID-19, which is backed by guidance fromthe CDC.
Florida’s First Lady talked about her dedication to this issuethrough the Hope forHealing initiative, and how much it affects her to think ofwhat kids are going through right now without interaction withpeople who can help.
“As a mother of a 3-year-old, a 2-year-old and a 4-month-oldbaby, when you see victims of abuse as young as 2…babies…youcan’t,” she said, getting emotional. “It’s too much. Sowe’re here to fight. We’re here to fight for them.”
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