A children’s advocacy group says it was a bad year for the youngest citizens of the state. “Prevent Child Abuse Iowa” released figures for 2002 showing child abuse at the second-highest level in the state’s history, with over 12-thousand cases. The group’s executive director Steve Scott says seven out of ten cases involved a pattern of behavior that once was called neglect. Neglect is termed “denial of critical care,” which means not providing some very critical things, and not just because the parents are poor but because they choose to. Scott says a neglected child ot only does without health care or other necessary things, but has no parental presence or attention in their life, something that can be very damaging. Scott says Iowa was one of the first to recognize the dangers posed by methamphetamine, and to pass a law saying it’s child-abuse to manufacture the drug where children are present. 2002 is the first year we have those numbers, and Scott says parents were caught manufacturing meth in cases involving almost 500 children. Scott says the drug’s not only toxic, but its manufacture puts children at risk of disasters like explosions and fires. While overall numbers for child abuse are higher than ever, Scott sees some reasons for optimism, as over the last decade or two, he sees a drop in the number of children physically harmed, and a nearly 50-percent decrease in children who’ve been sexually abused. “Prevent Child Abuse” notes the rising number of abuse cases comes in a year in which budget shortfalls have led to cuts in funding for social and family services.