COLUMBUS (WCMH) – A Zanesville man has been sentenced to more than 70 years in prison, pleading guilty to abusing and torturing his girlfriend’s children.
Investigators said the abuse wouldn’t have been discovered if it wasn’t for the children’s teacher.
Investigators in Zanesville said Elijah Waltz starved, tied up, and tortured his girlfriend’s children.
The signs of that extreme abuse would normally be visible in person, but were only eventually spotted after five months during a remote learning session.
Data from the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services shows a big drop in the number of child abuse and neglect cases for 2020.
In 2019, there were more than 202,000 cases.
But last year, there were just under 175,000, a decline of more than 27,000 cases.
The question becomes, is there less abuse happening or are there just fewer chances to report it?
A doctor from Nationwide Children’s Hospital said typically, financially hard times for families, like the pandemic, actually lead to an increase in physical abuse.
And with teachers being 80 percent of abuse reporters, children being out of the classroom could be keeping them with their abusers.
“When kids were removed from that situation, we actually saw less abuse,” said Dr. Kristin Crichton, a child abuse pediatrician with Nationwide Children’s Hospital. “Are kids being abuse less or is it being reported less? It’s a very important question. I’m concerned that it’s just not being identified and we’ve actually seen an uptick lately in the past few months with the numbers that we’re seeing.”
If you suspect child abuse or neglect, call 855-OH-CHILD (855-642-4453) and be connected to a children’s services agency that’s closest to you.