Cases of physical abuse of children in Montgomery County rose by more than 100 in 2012, compared to the previous year, while neglect cases decreased.
Montgomery County’s Department of Job and Family Services, Children’s Services Division, on Monday, released abuse data for last year as part of a kickoff to Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Month. Caseworkers and officials gathered for the event at the Haines Children Center, 3304 N. Main Street, Dayton.
According to the data released Monday:
- Physical abuse cases rose from 1,099 in 2011, to 1,208 last year.
- Cases of neglect fell from 1,607 to to 1,535 in the same time period.
- Emotional abuse also trended upward from 708 cases in 2011 to 799 last year.
Overall, the total number of investigations has remained relatively flat since 2009, with occasional spikes in varying categories. The number of investigations by children’s services since 2009 have ranged from a high of 4,797 in 2010, to a low of 4,484 in 2011. In 2012, there were 4,702 investigations.
“We still have work to do in our community to make sure kids are safe,” Deb Downing, the county’s assistant director of children’s services said. “It’s important for people to call if they suspect child abuse. They can report unanimously. They don’t have to know for certain there is something going on. That’s for us to determine.”
Mathias H. Heck, Jr., Montgomery County’s prosecuting attorney, said felony prosecutions of child abuse reached 57 last year, a 20 percent increase over the year before.
“One case is too many, especially when you look at the severity of the cases we’re seeing,” said Heck, adding there is no single reason for the increase in felony cases.
Signs of child abuse or neglect may include: a child showing sudden changes in behavior or school performance or who has learning problems that cannot be attributed to specific physical or psychological causes;children who have not received help for physical or medical problems that have been brought to a parent’s attention. The child may lack adult supervision, be overly compliant or one who comes to school or other activities early and stays late, and does not want to go home.
To report child abuse in Montgomery County contact the Children Services Division at 224-5437 or call the local police department.