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WJBD - Local News - Child Abuse and Neglect Reports on the Rise in Southern Illinois, Marion Co. Ranks 12th

Child Abuse and Neglect Reports on the Rise in Southern Illinois, Marion Co. Ranks 12th

By Will Doolin, WJBD News

Child Abuse and neglect reports are on the rise in southern Illinois.  According to the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, there has been a 5.4-percent increase in reports of abused and neglected children in southern Illinois.  The Child Abuse and Neglect Statistical Report, released Friday, shows that the Child Abuse Hotline received 25,348 reports of suspected abuse or neglect involving downstate children from July through October of this year, compared to 24,053 children during the same period last year.  The state average is 91 cases of abuse or neglect for every 10,000 Illinois children.  

DCFS spokesperson Dave Clarkin says Marion County and other south-central Illinois counties have seen a dramatic increase in child abuse rates.  He states Marion County is ranked 12th in the state, with Clay County ranked 11th in the state.  “Marion County and Clay County had similar rates of 235 and 251 abused and neglected children per 10,000 people.  That roughly works out to a rate of 1 in 50 families where we saw child abuse or neglect last year.  Jefferson County has a rate of 341 per 10,000 children, which is a rate of roughly 1 in 25 families in Jefferson County where abuse and neglect happened last year.  That makes Jefferson County third in the state”, said Clarkin.

Wayne County was ranked 25th in the state with 188 cases per 10,000 kids.  Fayette County was ranked 49th in the state with 153 cases per 10,000 kids.  Washington County was ranked 62nd in the state with 127 cases per 10,000 kids.  Clinton County was ranked 83rd in the state with 81 cases per 10,000 kids.  

Sixteen southern Illinois counties showed abuse and neglect rates more than double the statewide average.  A total of 35 counties statewide saw a significant increase in abuse and neglect rates.  Crawford County is ranked number one in the state with 391 cases per 10,000 children, more than four-times the state average.  Click here for the complete list of counties and their rankings.  Click here for the map of the state showing DCFS indicated victims across the state.

Clarkin says after talking to law enforcement agencies and social service agencies, there are many social factors that lead to suspecting child abuse and neglect.  “Certainly if you have a rise in poverty rates from unemployment for example, and there is not an existing network of social services in the area to help provide food and buy clothing and provide shelter for families in need, then you're going to see a rise in the number of cases that are indicated for neglect”, said Clarkin.  

Clarkin reports DCFS is in the process of reorganizing the department to put more social service workers in the field to help stop the increase of child abuse and neglect in not just southern Illinois, but across the state.  “We are working collaboratively with the union and lawmakers, all sharing to protecting and strengthen families, to implement that reorganization plan.  We hope to get that done during the upcoming fall veto session.  In order to enact that reorganization plan, we're going to need to reach an agreement with the union on a vacancy plan.  We are also asking the Illinois general assembly for a reallocation of $38 million to help move people to the front lines”, said Clarkin.  

DCFS encourages anyone who suspects that a child under 18 is being abused or neglected by a parent, relative, or other caregiver to call its toll-free hotline at 1-800-25-ABUSE (1-800-252-2873).  

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