Study shows increase in child abuse in county

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN
The number of cases of child abuse or neglect reported in Marion County in 2004 was 72.9 per 1,000 children, according to this year’s Kids Count report released last week by Kansas Action for Children.

That figure, the most recent available, increased from the 2003 rate of 71.9 per 1,000 children and is higher than the state average of 66.5 per 1,000.

Increased awareness about child abuse and neglect has likely caused an increase in the number of reports officials receive, according to the KAC.

After initial assessment of the report, which may include reviewing previous information known to Social & Rehabilitation Services about the family and the alleged perpetrator, many reports require no further action from SRS.

But it’s important to note that the number of cases in which there is intervention on behalf of the child also is on the rise, according to Sandra Hazlett, SRS director for Children and Family Services.

“There is more abuse and neglect in our communities than people would ever admit,” she said. “We need to have our eyes open to it.”

The number of reported cases of neglect or abuse in Marion County in 2004 increased from the 2000 rate of 57.7 per 1,000 GGGG.

The figures represent the number of official child abuse/ neglect reports received per 1,000 children and youth from birth through age 17.

The overall number of reported child abuse or neglect cases throughout Kansas was 54.8 per 1,000 in 2000.

Among the risk factors for abuse and neglect are substance abuse, youthful parents, having a child with a disability or mental illness, and stresses within the family, including work and financial stresses, Hazlett said.

“There are ways to support parents by being good neighbors and communities,” she said. “If there’s a perception that a family may be at risk, is the community willing to step forward and help those children maybe through a church, providing respite or child care, or providing transportation to a medical appointment?

“That can go a long way in helping to support families struggling to keep their heads above water.”

In addition, people can provide role models by how they interact with their own children, she said. “Parents learn by observing.”

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