(Lawrenceburg, Ind.) - April is Child Abuse Prevention Month, and Community Mental Health Center in Lawrenceburg wants to remind residents they are an important part of stopping child abuse.
“(CMHC) wants you to know that the national prevention month provides our communities with an important opportunity to become aware of, and remain vigilant of, how children are abused, what effect this abuse has on our children and our communities, how we can help children who are abused, and what we can do to stop child abuse in the future,” said Kevin Kennedy, Sr., administrative assistant at CMHC.
Although entities such as CMHC and the Indiana Department of Child Services continue to combat dangerous home situations involving children, abuse does appear to still be prevalent in southeast Indiana.
In the most recent data available, DCS reported there were 28 substantiated cases of child physical abuse in Dearborn County in 2009, along with 23 cases of sexual abuse, and 145 cases of neglect. While the number of sexual abuse cases had declined from 2008 when there were 32 such reports, both physical abuse and neglect cases increased in 2009.
In Franklin County, there were seven substantiated cases of physical abuse, a decline of two from 2008. There were also 11 substantiated cases of sexual abuse, down from 22 in 2008. There were 64 substantiated cases of neglect, an increase of 11 from 2008.
Ohio County witnessed four substantiated cases of physical abuse in 2009, up from two cases the year before. There was just one case of sexual abuse, down from five the previous year. There also were six substantiated cases of neglect, up from four in 2008.
Ripley County had nine substantiated cases of physical abuse, down from 12 the previous year, and 23 cases of sexual abuse, up from eight in 2008. There also were 98 substantiated cases of neglect, up from 95 the previous year.
In Switzerland County, there were five cases of physical abuse, down from six in 2008, and 26 cases of sexual abuse, up from five cases the previous year. There also were 22 cases of neglect, up from 21 in 2009.
No child abuse deaths occurred in Dearborn, Franklin, Ohio, Ripley and Switzerland counties in 2010. Statewide, such deaths trended downwards to 25 in State Fiscal Year 2010 from 38 in fiscal 2009. Of the deaths, 19 were due to abuse and six were due to neglect.
According to CMHC, the counties of Dearborn (16.0), Ripley (18.1), and Switzerland (23.7) were all above the state average of 15.6 children per 1,000 for the population under the age of 18 for substantiated cases of abuse and neglect. Franklin County was just under the state average, at 14.2 per 1,000 population under the age of 18. Ohio County was perhaps the safest place for children at 8.55.
“Child abuse is insidious, and it comes in many different forms. It can range from consistent neglect – failing to provide for the everyday basic needs of food, clothing and good hygiene and health for a child – to something as vicious as ongoing battery and sexual abuse,” he said.
Kennedy said CMHC’s Directions! Program reaches out to school children through the five-county region. Second through fifth graders are educated about what child abuse is and what they can do to help stop abuse, whether it is against them or another child.
“Children continue to die or be scarred for life by abuse and neglect every day in our state and throughout the country, so awareness and prevention continue to be promoted on an ongoing basis,” Kennedy said.
More information about CMHC’s Directions! Program can be obtained by calling program manager Cathy Dwyer, (812) 537-7381, or visit www.cmhcinc.org.
Reports from the Indiana Department of Child Services can be found at http://www.in.gov/dcs/3196.htm.