New data shows increase in child abuse and neglect cases

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- New data from the Indiana Youth Institute (IYI) shows increased in child abuse across the state.

According to IYI's annual kids count report, in 2016, there were 18.6 substantiated cases of child abuse or neglect per every 1,000 children. In Marion County, that number was at nearly 23.

Advocates said many of the cases are because of the state's drug epidemic. DCS reports 60 percent of the children they removed from homes are tied to substance abuse.

"A lot of people being impacted right now by the opioid crisis are fairly young. They're in their mid 20s or mid to late 30s," IYI President and CEO Tami Silverman said.

Even if you don't know someone addicted to drugs, Sandy Runkle-Delorme with Prevent Child Abuse Indiana said the drug epidemic is likely to impact you.

"In the long run it always does, whether it's literal cost, like money," Runkle-Delorme said.

The report also showed an increase in calls to the state's child abuse and neglect hotline. They increased 11 percent in 2016. Silverman said that's not always a bad thing. Cases of abuse and neglect playing out on a national stage may impact a victims comfort level in reporting suspected abuse.

"Anytime you see that victims of any kid of abuse, be it physical or sexual or emotional, come forward an you see that they're hurt and it encourages more victims and it shows our communities will support them," Silverman said.

Advocates said the data is a jumping off point for communities to find ways to lower some of the abuse statistics and to put data into action with a focus on prevention.

"Just like law enforcement relies on crime watch in neighborhoods and tip lines, we need to do things that are involving the community," Runkle Delorme said.

Click here for the full Kids Count Data Book. For a breakdown by county, click here.

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