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9/9/2017 11:50:00 AM
EDUCATION: More education, programs needed to prevent child abuse deaths

Herald Bulletin

“One hundred percent preventable.”

That’s what Mary Beth Bonaventura said about the 77 Indiana children who died of abuse or neglect in 2015.

Of those 77 “substantiated” deaths covered in the Indiana Department of Child Services Annual Report of Child Fatalities for Indiana, about half of them were traumatic.

According to the report, head trauma was the main cause of death in abuse cases. And a third of the children died as a result of neglect.

What is most troubling is that the number of substantiated child abuse/neglect cases in the state is rising. In 2012, 34 cases; in 2013, 49 cases; 66 cases in 2014, and 77 cases in 2015.

Help is available, but the sheer volume of those who need it is shocking.

Kids Talk, an Anderson advocacy center that started in 2014, has assisted more than 1,300 children. Working with the Department of Child Services, the center provides reports of children who might be at risk of abuse/neglect.

Denise Valdez, director of Kids Talk, believes that violence in the home is often “glossed over,” and that education “is a key element to change.”

“We’re just overwhelmed with the number of cases,” said Annette Craycraft, executive director of East Central Indiana Court Appointed Special Advocates. And, the number is alarming. Craycraft said there are 400 people on a waiting list needing services.

And, Craycraft agreed that education can help change behavior. Community mentors and organized programs could be just a start.

Through better reporting of signs of negligence and abuse, as well as more programs to teach good parenting skills and more community resources to help kids and families, this trend has got to be reversed.

If these and other resources aren’t addressed, cases will continue to rise.

And, each of them were “100 percent preventable.”

Related Stories:
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• Indiana child welfare organizations work to keep children with relatives
• Grandparents as parents: Indiana drug epidemic has created challenges for families
• New $4 million building provides safe spaces for abuse Elkhart County children
• Paucity of foster parents leaves Hoosier children without homes

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