The Indiana Department of Child Services released its report on child fatalities related to abuse and neglect in fiscal 2012 on Friday, June 6, which showed some happened in the immediate area.
The report said that, of a statewide total of 34 children dying of these two causes, Elkhart County saw two children die due to neglect. No children died of abuse in the county, the report said.
In Indiana, neglect is defined as, “an act in which a child’s physical or mental condition is seriously impaired or seriously endangered as a result of the inability, refusal or neglect of the child’s parent, guardian or custodian to supply the child with necessary food, clothing, shelter, medical care, education or supervision,” the report said.
Statewide, 19 children died due to neglect, putting Elkhart County’s number of deaths at just over 10 percent of the state’s total.
According to the report, 60 percent of the children who died of abuse across Indiana were 1 year old or younger, and 63 percent of children who died of neglect were 1 year old or younger.
Mary Beth Bonaventura, the department’s director, said in a news release that higher numbers of children younger than 1 dying from these causes has been a trend from year to year.
"Our infants and toddlers are the most vulnerable of all our children,“ Bonaventura said in the release. ”And smaller children take a lot of supervision, care and patience — which may be difficult to give if someone has low or poor parenting skills or is dealing with multiple stress factors.“
These stress factors include things like unemployment, substance abuse and domestic violence, the release said.
Of the total number of child fatalities attributed to abuse and neglect, 38 percent were ruled accidental, 50 percent were ruled homicides, three percent were ruled natural and nine percent were undetermined, the report said.
For more information on the report’s findings, visit the Indiana Department of Child Services’ website. To report suspected cases of abuse and neglect, call the Indiana Child Abuse Hotline at 800-800-5556.