Child abuse on the rise in Indiana, 2015 a record-breaking year

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (June 2, 2015) - If you think you’re seeing more child abuse cases than ever before, you’d be correct. Indiana Department of Child Services reports that 2015 has been a record-breaking year for child abuse cases.

Parents in Greenfield are accused of killing their 1-year-old girl. The alleged abuse started at birth. The investigation has been taxing even for police that deal with disturbing cases every day.

“This case in particular has been very taxing on our detectives,” said Chief of Police John Jester.

Also in the news now, the case captivating Indy; the search for 3-month-old baby Janna Rivera, who is now presumed dead.

“There’s not really an end in sight for the increase,” said Carey Haley Wong, chief counsel for Marion County Child Advocates.

The first five months of 2015 have been record-breaking in child abuse cases.

Already, in the first five months of 2015, there are 1,736 new children in need of services in Marion County, that`s a 42 percent jump since that same time in 2014.   Wong says there are many factors that have led to this increase, with one in particular though acting as the largest cause for concern.

“It’s largely attributable to heroin though not entirely because there are other factors like poverty and domestic violence and mental health that play as well, but heroin is the new thing that’s leading to this increase,” said Wong.

The problem is not exclusive to Marion County though. DCS announced 2015 is breaking child abuse records across the state as well.

Nearly 18,000 children are in need of service. That is up 26 percent from 2014.

“Everyone has to play a part, not just can, but everyone has to play a part,” said Sandy Runkle, programs director for Prevent Child Abuse Indiana.

Prevent Child Abuse Indiana is a statewide organization that aims to cut these staggering stats, by stopping abuse before it happens.

Indiana is one of 19 states that has a mandatory report law, meaning if you suspect child abuse you have a legal obligation to report it to DCS and potentially, save a life.

“You don’t have to prove anything, you don’t have to investigate anything, if there are children involved and you feel like some form of maltreatment or you have reason to believe some form of maltreatment is going on, then that needs to be reported,” said Runkle.

If you know or suspect child abuse or neglect, call the 24 hour DCS hotline at 1-800-800-5556.

Child Advocates of Marion County is always looking for court appointed volunteers. You can sign up to help at their website.