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Indiana ranked among top states for child abuse and neglect

NOW: Indiana ranked among top states for child abuse and neglect

SOUTH BEND, Ind. – April is Child Abuse Prevention Month but a series of recent reports reveal a troubling trend about child abuse and neglect in Indiana.

Reports from the Indiana Youth Institute and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services rank Indiana second in the nation for its rate of child abuse victims.

For every 1,000 Hoosier children, 20.8 have suffered some form of abuse or neglect.

According to the Indiana Department of Child Services, that rate nearly doubled in the last 10 years.

The reports suggest a lack of funding and Indiana’s opioid crisis may be reasons why those numbers continue to grow.

Anna Taul works with Prevent Child Abuse of St. Joseph County.

“When we have children who are getting abused, if it’s one or even 100, like any amount of child abuse is not something that we want to see,” said Taul. “Basically as a whole, we want to work towards safe and happy childhoods for all kids because all kids deserve that.”

The organization says kids may be physically, sexually, or emotionally abused. Children can also be neglected of basic needs like food, clothing, and housing.

Research suggests children who suffer from child maltreatment may have physical injuries, delayed growth and development, and are at increased risk for depression, suicide, drug and alcohol abuse, and criminal behavior. Those effects may spill into adulthood.

Taul says community organizations need to work with local and state governments to prevent this from happening to another child.

 “I think as a whole, to live in a world where children don’t have to worry about being abused, it’s just amazing,” said Taul. “You have safe, happy childhoods. That’s really the goal that we’re all working toward, and so it just leads to a more strong and empowered and encourage community.”

Protect Child Abuse of St. Joseph County says parents and professionals need to be aware of abuse and neglect’s physical indicators, like bruising or scarring, and its behavioral effects, like children withdrawing from an activity they once loved to do.

The organization adds parents should teach their kids that they can say “no” to a person who touches them in a way that makes them feel uncomfortable. Parents should also make sure their kids understand if that happens, they can report it to them or another trusted adult and will be believed.

“Just being aware of those and kind of you know getting out there and Googling what’s out there, just knowing, being able to pass the information along to your friends and family, that’s very helpful,” said Taul.

Indiana is a mandatory reporting state. If an adult suspects a child may be the victim of abuse or neglect, he or she must report it the Department of Child Services or law enforcement. DCS operates a 24-hour, 7-days-a-week hotline for reporting suspected child abuse or neglect. That number is 1-800-800-5556.

To learn more about preventing child abuse, click here.

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