A report from the Iowa Department of Human Services shows 11-thousand-637 children in Iowa were abused or neglected in 2012. DHS spokesman, Roger Munns, says that’s a decline of one-percent and is not unusual compared to other years.
“Overall there has been very little movement in the rate of abuse or neglect of Iowa kids in the last year or so. Generally speaking, the numbers tend to go up or down in a very narrow range,” Munns says. Munns says the economy is one of the biggest factors in the number of abuse or neglect cases.
“When the economy improves, generally speaking, abuse and neglect goes in the other direction. And when the economy turns south, that’s when there’s additional pressures on families and stress which leads to — in many cases — to abuse and neglect,” Munns says. The report says 8,800 of the reported cases were “founded”, while the rest were less serious confirmed cases where the abuse was minor and not likely to happen again.
Almost 80-percent of the cases involve child neglect. Ten percent involve physical abuse, and within that category, the number of cases where the abuse was a result of “presence of illegal drugs in a child’s body,” increased by six percent.
Munns says it’s hard to draw too many conclusions from the increase in the number of children where illegal drugs were found in their bodies because the overall numbers are very small. Around half of the cases of abuse or neglect involve kids who are five-years-old or younger.
“Social workers are particularly sensitive to that group because these are kids who don’t get seen by everybody else. Once you get over five…you are in school or there are other activities where other people will see the child, and the child is not quite as vulnerable,” Munns says. The report says sexual abuse made up four-percent of the cases, which as comparable to last year.
You can see the county-by-county numbers from the report on the Department of Human Services website at: www.dhs.state.ia.us/Partners/Reports/PeriodicReports/Abuse/Child.html.