Indiana Ranks 5th For Child Abuse

.jpg photo of Director of Child Abuse agency
Rachel Tobin-Smith

Local Expert Blames Rise Of Drug Use
Among Parents

The long arm of the CPS AGENDA is all too obvious in this “news article”, every person with half a brain knows there are NO JOBS in Our Country, and manufacturing jobs are the basis of Our economy and the key to people having folding money in their pockets.  The truly funny part of this “news article” is the fact that you haven’t got to take my word for it, because down in the re-cap, an annual survey is listed under “At a glance”:  Rate for public assistance and financial problems is much higher in Indiana than the national average.
Robert StrongBow

She wore a tank top, which made the needle marks on the inside of her right elbow clear as day in the light of the summer afternoon.

The police officer who responded to the crash, a fender bender at the Interstate 69 exit along West Jefferson Boulevard, could also see scab marks along the then 28-year-old woman’s chest and arms. She admitted she rear-ended another car while trying to turn left onto Jefferson, but she did so with a slurred, “thick tongued and mumbled” speech, the officer later wrote.

Affixed to a diaper bag in the car the officer found a bottle of Adderall and amphetamine pills – both of which are illegal to possess if, like the woman, one does not have a prescription.  Also inside her car and luckily unhurt in the crash: the woman’s 23-month-old daughter.

Allen County prosecutors formally charged the woman last week with felony counts of neglect of a dependent, operating a vehicle while intoxicated and possession of narcotics.  This case is like many others permeating the state the last few years and causing alarm among officials in social services: Parents abusing drugs and in turn abusing their children – or at the very least putting them in danger.

A new report released today called Kids Count calculated that Indiana ranks fifth in the country when it comes to kids being abused or neglected for the first time in the past year, with 9 out of 10 being first-time victims.

And data in the report found that 13.4 percent of children reported living with a parent who had a problem with alcohol or drugs, well above the national average of 10 percent.

Many officials see a direct correlation between the rise of prescription pill abuse, and now heroin, with a rise in the number of abuse and neglect cases social workers have been handling throughout the state.

“It’s the drugs,” said Rachel Tobin-Smith, executive director of SCAN Inc., northeast Indiana’s child abuse prevention agency.  “The drugs are making children vulnerable.”

Drugs like heroin, which comes cheap and is in many ways easier to get because of a crackdown on prescription pills, have wreaked havoc in nearly every aspect of life, health and police officials have said for the past few years.

That includes the welfare of children.

Tobin-Smith’s organization dealt with more than 840 families last year in which substance abuse was an issue, and time and time again she would run into stories about what a parent consumed by heroin turns into: someone who forgets to change diapers or take their children to school, or even clean the child.

“You might spend all your money on drugs,” she said. “And then there is no money for food or clothing.”

And there are other extremes when it comes to drugs.

A Huntington mother is accused of letting her baby suck heroin off her finger last year.

A Marion man is serving a long prison term for killing his Bluffton girlfriend’s child while the couple was in the midst of a drug binge last winter.  The mother is also in jail awaiting trial on neglect of a dependent charges, among other counts related to her drug use.

Reports of child abuse are also up across the state, even here in Allen County.

According to Indiana Department of Child Services records, Allen typically received about 600 reports of abuse or neglect to investigate in any given month during 2014.  During the last six months of 2015, the number of abuse or neglect reports spiked, sometimes topping 800 a month.

Statewide, reports of abuse or neglect at times topped out at more than 16,000.

The situation with drugs became so alarming to state officials that Gov. Mike Pence authorized the hiring of 113 extra case workers for the state Department of Child Services this year.  All of those positions have now been filled as calls to the child services hotline continue to grow.

And while heroin is possibly the new drug du jour, people might be abusing in this area, it’s still not necessarily the only one statewide.

“There has definitely been an increase in the number of cases that have drug involvement,” James B. Wide, spokesman for the Department of Child Services, said in an email.  “However, we cannot just [attribute] that increase to heroin, as it really depends on geography.  Some areas of the state have a bigger issue with cocaine, some meth, some prescription, and some heroin.”

Despite the new hires across the state, Tobin-Smith said there is always a need for more social workers.

“We can’t find enough people qualified to do the job,” she said, adding that to do such work requires a lot of education, plus time in the field as well as licensing.  “(The drug problem) is stretching our resources.”

But she said there is a tinge of hope.

Several years ago it was methamphetamine the state was trying to tackle.  It took time to get a handle on the problem, which, yes, still exists, but measures were taken as officials began to see and understand the scope of what was happening.

Heroin, while it’s been out there, is still relatively new.

It will take the community coming together, Tobin-Smith said, plus money for drug treatment programs and other programs to get people the help they need, but they’ve done this before.

“We’re beginning to wrap our heads around it,” she said.

At a glance

Kids Count, a survey released today, takes an annual snapshot of the health of children statewide, factoring in a number of health-related issues.  One is child abuse and neglect, and the following are highlights from the survey.

  • Indiana has the fifth highest rate nationally of children being abused or neglected for the first time in the past year (10 out of every 1,000 children in Indiana compared with 7 per 1,000 in the United States).
  • In Indiana, 9 out of 10 victims of abuse and neglect were first-time victims.
  • More than 90 percent of those kids didn’t have another incident reported within 6 months of the initial incident.
  • In 2014, there was a substantiated case of abuse or neglect every 20 minutes in Indiana.
  • For every 1,000 Hoosier kids, 16 were victims of abuse or neglect.
  • Nearly half of those are children 5 years old or younger.
    In state fiscal year 2013, 49 Hoosier children died from maltreatment, compared with 34 in 2012.
  • Only seven of the 2013 deaths had prior contact with the Department of Child Services.
  • Of the 2013 deaths, 14 were due to abuse and 35 were due to neglect.
  • In 2013, more than 1 in 5 Indiana children who were maltreated had a disability.
  • The Indiana Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline handled nearly 200,000 reports – an average of about one report every two-and-a-half minutes in 2014.
  • Average caller spends slightly more than 12 minutes speaking with an intake specialist.
  • Top risk factors for maltreatment in Indiana: if the caregiver is receiving public assistance, has financial problems or has a history of domestic violence.  Rate for public assistance and financial problems is much higher in Indiana than the national average.
  • Insufficient income and unemployment were risk factors in 98 percent of maltreatment deaths, substance abuse in 43 percent of maltreatment fatalities and domestic violence in 47 percent of abuse fatalities.

Indiana Child Services Hotline

If you suspect a child is being abused or neglected, call Indiana’s Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline today.  It is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.  Reports can be made anonymously. 1-800-800-5556