By Natalie Zarowny
From July through October of this year, there's been a 5% increase in reports of abused and neglected children in downstate Illinois, compared with the same time last year.
Experts said several different factors may be contributing to the increase.
"When there's a downturn in the economy, child abuse and neglects increase," said Pam Hauman of the Child Abuse Council in the Quad Cities.
Hauman said hard times with money lead to more cases of neglect, basic needs not being met, and unsanitary conditions.
But there could be another factor involved in more reports.
"Our agency, as well as others, do a lot of work around child abuse prevention," said Hauman.
She said these days, there's also more media attention, and awareness in general about reporting any signs of abuse or neglect.
But sometimes, folks are hesitant to report because of how it'll affect their relationship with someone.
"You just have to make a decision for yourself, that the relationship with that adult is not more important that the protection of the child," said Hauman.
Others are afraid their suspicions will be wrong.
But Hauman said it's better to be safe than sorry, and when it comes down to it, you need to trust yourself.
"If you're not sure, what's your gut instinct? That's usually a lot more accurate than anything else," said Hauman.