Police say domestic violence and child abuse are soaring in the city of St. Louis, reports the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Local children’s hospitals say they’re seeing more – and more severely – shaken and beaten children. A crisis nursery says it has a record caseload and had to turn away more than 200 children in March for lack of bed space. Police and family violence professionals say these could be signs that the recession is fueling violence.
There is some conflicting evidence: The Missouri Department of Social Services shows no recent uptick in child abuse and neglect. Two local shelters say they aren’t seeing a rise in battered women seeking help, although experts say that could mean women are too afraid to leave an abuser during hard times. The St. Louis police chief is at a loss for another way to explain a sudden rise in family violence while, overall, reports of crime are down. “That’s really the only explanation to have such a dramatic increase in child abuse and domestic abuse at a time when the unemployment rate is up,” said Chief Dan Isom. He said the department is working with St. Louis Children’s Hospital to study the problem.