April 2, 2018
Kentucky and Indiana continue to see a rise in child abuse.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Children’s Bureau child abuse report released this year shows a jump in both states. Kentucky reported 20,000 victims — a nearly 6 percent increase representing about 20 out of every 1,000 children. Indiana reported 28,500 cases. That’s an 8 percent increase and represents 18 out of every 1,000 kids. This year’s report uses data from 2016.
Both rates are double the national average.
The study also shows 15 Kentucky kids died as the result of abuse, which is one less than the previous year. Indiana, on the other hand, reported a spike, with 70 deaths in 2016. That’s compared with 34 the year before.
“This is troubling news,” said Erin Frazier, M.D., chair of the Partnership to Eliminate Child Abuse, which is led by Norton Children’s Hospital. “We’re hoping the increase in cases means more people are recognizing the signs of abuse. But the fact that more children are dying from abuse means we, as a society, have a lot of work to do.”
Numbers from “Child Maltreatment 2016” report.
Rankings are from 1 (worst) to 52 (best) and include Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico.
“There are many factors that go into child abuse,” Dr. Frazier said. “Just like the opioid epidemic, abuse happens among all ages, races and income levels.”
“Abuse is 100 percent preventable,” said Kelly Dauk, M.D., chair of the Norton Children’s Hospital Child Abuse Task Force and pediatrician with University of Louisville Physicians. “We need to continue to educate how to not only identify abuse but also how to prevent a child from being put in potentially dangerous situations.”
In recognition of April as National Child Abuse Prevention Month, here are some simple ways parents and bystanders can make a life-saving difference:
More ideas are available at DontHurtChildren.com.
In Kentucky, the number to call to report suspected child abuse is (877) KY-SAFE1 (597-2331). In Indiana, call (800) 800-5556. The National Child Abuse Hotline, (800) 4-A-CHILD (422-4453), offers professional crisis counselors who can provide intervention, information and referrals to emergency, social service and support resources. Calls are confidential.