DCS report: 59 children died from abuse and neglect in 2016, most deaths were in Marion County

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – After months of delays, the Indiana Department of Child Services released a report detailing the latest number of child deaths due to abuse and neglect in the state.

According to DCS, the goal of the report is to apply painful lessons toward preventing the deaths of other children.

The latest report compiles data from 2016, and it shows 59 children died from abuse and neglect. That number is down from 2015 where the state saw 77 kids die because of abuse or neglect.

Of the 59 deaths, nine had prior substantiated DCS history. That number is up from the previous year. In 2015, four of the 77 cases had prior substantiated DCS history.

In 46 of the deaths, the victims were 3-years-old or younger. DCS says this finding demonstrates a consistent trend (nationally and in Indiana) that young children are at the highest risk of abuse or neglect.

Another important note: there were nearly five times as many deaths from child abuse and neglect in Marion County than there were in the counties with the second-highest deaths.

Marion County recorded 14 fatalities. The next-highest areas reporting fatalities were Allen, Elkhart and Tippecanoe Counties, which reported three fatalities each.

In cases of abuse, data shows the cause of death is almost always head trauma. Motor vehicle accidents (12 cases) were the highest cause of neglect-related deaths. Meanwhile, asphyxia (8 cases) and drowning (six cases) were the next-most common causes.

The report profiles a number of cases where children died in car crashes caused by their mother or father choosing to drive while drunk or high on drugs.

Here’s a look back at the last five years of available data on child fatalities:

  • 2012: 34
  • 2013: 49
  • 2014: 66
  • 2015: 77
  • 2016: 59

If you need help or want to report suspected abuse, you can contact the Department of Child Services or Prevent Child Abuse Indiana.