The Tulsa County District Attorney and his Crimes Against Children unit say despite fewer reports, child abuse and neglect are still a widespread problem.
"It's the worst possible scenario," Tulsa County District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler said. "We've been very worried from the very beginning."
Kunzweiler said declining COVID-19 numbers will mean increased abuse reports in the coming months.
Kunzweiler compared reports from 2019 and 202 for cases of child physical abuse, child sexual abuse, and child neglect. In 2019, the referrals totaled 124 cases. In 2020, the referrals totaled 57.
"That is 54 percent fewer cases submitted to our office in 2020 during the first three months of the pandemic," Kunzweiler said.
"Our hearts are grieving for these kids because we know what they're going through. Our goal is to get more eyes on some of these kids," Kunzweiler said.
Katie Koljack, with the Crimes Against Children Unit, said a lot of neglect cases come from parents not supervising their kids.
"Because parents have been home working from home and even losing their jobs, kids are not being watched over like they need to be. The consequences can be extremely dire," Koljack said.
She says the most recent example is the deaths of toddlers Tony and Miracle Crook last month. "Unfortunately, because of the failure to supervise, they drowned," Koljack said.
Koljack said her unit is prepared for an influx of reports once kids are back in school. However, right now, they're relying on the public to help.
"Abuse is a crime of secrecy, so we are begging the public just be watchful, look around, and listen. It could be nothing, but it could be something."
You can report suspected abuse anonymously the child abuse hotline at 918-522-3511.