IN Brief

Indiana officials emphasize “child abuse is preventable” at April kickoff event

By: - April 4, 2023 4:24 pm

Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb talks with kids at a Statehouse event on Tuesday, April 4, 2023.(Casey Smith/Indiana Capital Chronicle)

The Indiana Department of Child Services (DCS) on Tuesday kicked off Child Abuse Prevention Month at the Statehouse, calling for more statewide collaboration to increase safety for Hoosier kids. 

“This is a month where we call on every Hoosier to do their part in making sure Indiana has healthy, strong and supported families,” Gov. Eric Holcomb said during the event. “Working together to achieve this is essential to preventing child abuse and helping our communities thrive.” 

DCS Director Terry Stigdon emphasized the agency — staffed by 4,000 employees — works around the clock to respond to child abuse reports. She said more reliable child care, training for parents, and expanded treatment options for substance use disorders could help decrease child abuse across the state.

“The entire child welfare system must work together with our communities to serve children and families at the right time and in the right way,” Stigdon said. “But the work doesn’t stop there. We have much more to learn and do to keep our children from harm.” 

Anyone who suspects a child has been neglected or abused should call the Indiana Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline at 800-800-5556.

A recent report from the federal Children’s Bureau found that for every 1,000 children in Indiana, 110 had been referred to child protective services in 2021. That’s the third-highest rate in the country, according to the report.

Children under the age of 1 are more likely to be victims of abuse in Indiana than in any other state. Out of every 1,000 infants, 65 were victims of abuse.

Further, Indiana’s child abuse investigators and caseworkers had the second-highest caseload in the nation, per the federal report.

“At the end of the day, no matter the cause, we have to agree — child abuse is preventable,” Stigdon said. “We cannot do this alone. And the more people we have dedicated to the same cause, the better our outcomes are going to be.”

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Casey Smith
Casey Smith

A lifelong Hoosier, Casey Smith previously reported on the Indiana Legislature for The Associated Press. Internationally, she has reported on water quality across South America. She holds a master’s degree in investigative reporting and narrative science writing from the University of California/Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism. She previously earned degrees in journalism, anthropology and Spanish from Ball State University, where she now serves as an instructor of journalism.

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