Out of respect for some families, not talking about child abuse or neglect might seem like the right thing to do. Unfortunately, it clearly is not the right thing to do if a child is endangered. Neighbors, teachers, relatives and passers-by all have a stake in raising a child in a safe environment.
The Indiana Department of Child Services Thursday reported almost 80 Hoosier children died in fiscal year 2015. That’s up from 66 deaths in 2014 and 49 child deaths in 2013, according to The Associated Press.
Almost 50 percent of the deaths were homicides and one-third of them were accidents.
For child advocates, that increase is not only alarming, it is simply unacceptable. The Department of Child Services reports poverty and drug use contributed to many of the child deaths in 2015, and Director Mary Beth Bonaventura said every death is preventable.
It was only two years ago that then-Gov. Mike Pence said Indiana would hire more than 100 child abuse and neglect caseworkers.
But the job of improving Indiana’s death rate in child abuse and neglect cases is just beginning, and Hoosiers should not have a false sense of security because more people have been hired. Socially, Hoosiers should promote child abuse prevention and dispel the myth that Indiana is a safe place to raise a child simply because of its geography. No place is safe when those who abuse or neglect children are not held accountable.
“Frankly, almost everyone has some involvement with children,” she said. “We know that children who are seen regularly by caring adults such as teachers, day care providers, aunts, uncles, neighbors, home-based workers and nurses are less likely to be abused or neglected. We all can help protect our little ones.”
It’s been said that it takes a village to raise a child. In Indiana’s case, it takes a state government and residents committed to raising children in safer environments.