LEBANON, Ind. – Boone County prosecutors say there has been an increase in child abuse cases where the victims are toddler age or younger. Since July, prosecutors confirm they have opened at least five new cases with victims in that age range, which is more than they see in a typical year.
In some of those cases, parents attribute the incidents to being frustrated or overwhelmed.
In one particular case, a 4-month-old child was found to have 14 different fractures in various stages of healing. The child’s parents, Mark Crudup and Rochelle Withers, were arrested and charged with neglect of a dependent resulting in serious Injury. Both have denied any wrongdoing.
Child advocates say unfortunately it’s an all too common situation.
“I would say just the normal stages of development are the biggest risk factors, the crying baby, the 1-year old learning to walk and getting into things, the 2-year-old asserting independence, potty training, feeding. Typical stages of development we find are huge risk factors because families don’t quite know what to do,” Prevent Child Abuse Indiana Director of Programs Sandy Runkle-DeLorme said.
DeLorme says “checking- in” with new parents can be a good way to help prevent such cases from happening.
“Not just the physical needs but are you getting enough rest? How’s the baby or toddler at home? How are things going?”
DeLorme adds that signs of being overwhelmed include constant frustration and lack of rest, or the parent expecting more from a child than what a child can give in their stage of development. She adds that part of the problem is that parents feel they may lose their child if they admit to their struggles.
“But if you were to check in and ask, and ask probing questions about sleeping, eating, all of those things, they may feel like they do want to share,” she said.
However, DeLorme says to start solving the problem it’s going to take both parents coming forward, and people who interact with those parents keeping their eyes out.
“We need to be able to reach out to families we may see struggling,” she said.
Child advocates say the rising number of abuse and neglect cases highlight the need for foster homes and advocates for abused or neglected children. To learn more about becoming a foster parent, you can click here.
A spokesperson with the state office of GAL/CASA said each county has different rules or qualifications for who can be an advocate or volunteer. Click here for more information or call 1-800-542-0813.
For more information on Prevent Child Abuse Indiana, as well as resources for parents and concerned citizens, you can click here.
If you suspect a child is being abused or neglected, you can call Indiana's Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline. More information can be found here.