Family Law Prof Blog

Editor: Margaret Ryznare
Indiana University
Robert H. McKinney School of Law

Saturday, March 4, 2017

What's behind Indiana's increase in child abuse reports?

From The Greensburg Daily News:

Shortly after an elementary principal alerted deputies something might be wrong with a child who had been absent from school for a few days, the frightened 9-year-old boy was laying in the fetal position in the lobby of the Johnson County Sherriff’s Office.

The boy’s pale face was bruised, scratched and cut. His eyes were partially shut and droopy, strained with broken blood vessels. Dried blood and drainage was coming from his ears. His neck was branded with ligature marks. He was shaking.

When a deputy tried to speak to him that night in October, the boy was disoriented. He couldn’t talk clearly and cried out that he was hungry and asked for food, according to court documents.

The boy’s mother demonstrated to police how she had intentionally and repeatedly hit her son in the groin three or four times, causing swelling, the documents said. She indicated she had lost control and knew it was wrong, but that she did it anyways. She didn’t send him or his brother to school because of their visible injuries.

The boy’s mother, Krystle Nikole Case, 31, was recently charged with two felonies: neglect of a dependent and battery resulting in serious bodily injury to a child. A judge issued a no-contact order that will keep her from seeing her son, even if she is released during her case.

This story is one of nearly 27,000 confirmed child abuse or neglect cases in Indiana each year.

The number of Hoosier child abuse and neglect cases has risen consistently since 2011, according to the Indiana Youth Institute’s annual KIDS COUNT in Indiana Data Book.

The report — which also gives data on homelessness, infant mortality, youth suicide and other topics — details how children are “surviving, not thriving” through 2015 statistics and year-to-year comparisons of the various challenges they face.

James Wide, deputy communications director for Indiana’s Department of Child Services, said although the number of child abuse reports are going up, it’s not for a bad reason. Wide attributes the increased number of reports to more cases being filed because of more awareness about child abuse issues, not necessarily because more incidents are occurring.

His office deals with all sorts of child welfare issues, including handling child support and protecting children from all types of abuse and neglect.

Before 2012, the state didn’t have a centralized child abuse and neglect hotline. Before the hotline, Wide said there were more than 300 numbers scattered across the state that weren’t always answered by a professional — or answered at all.

But the introduction of the Indiana Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline streamlined reporting. Anyone who calls 1-800-800-5556, any time, is connected to a trained family case manager to describe what they think might be going on with a child.

Read more here.

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