VIGO COUNTY, Ind. (WTHI) – A new report by the Indiana Office of Court Services says the number of child abuse cases in Indiana have doubled over the past ten years.
“It’s exceptionally concerning when you’re talking about raising children in communities that you want them to be healthy, thriving adults,” said Susie’s Place Founder and Executive Director, Emily Perry. “When they don’t have a healthy foundation, what does that mean about our future?”
According to the Indiana courts, 17,000 children face neglect or abuse each year. This statistic is just the cases that go to court. In reality, nearly 130,000 children face neglect or abuse.
The Wabash Valley is not an exception. According to public health officials, there were over 5,000 reports of child abuse and neglect last year in the area.
“Just that number alone has skyrocketed in the past few years,” said Perry.
Susie’s Place Child Advocacy Centers is an organization that conducts interviews with children in these cases. She’s witnessed the increasing number of children needing her intervention first hand.
“Just that number has dramatically gone up for us so we directly correlate that with what’s going on in the drug epidemic and mental health issues for families,” said Perry.
Substance abuse is one of the main factors of child abuse according to Perry. As the drug and opioid epidemic increase, reports of child mistreatment follow.
“Mental health is the number one factor leading to abuse and neglect,” said Perry.
Mental health isn’t being treated to its full capacity because of a lack of facilities and the high costs associated with this care according to Perry.
“This is something that we need to have a significant intervention now in hopes that in a generation or two, impacting significantly,” said Perry.
For a short-term solution, Susie’s Place is educating local organizations to recognize the signs of neglect and abuse.
“If you have a concern about a child it is your moral obligation to report it,” said Perry.
In Indiana, everyone is a mandatory reporter. This means that if you even suspect child neglect or abuse occurring, you are required by law to report it.
The child abuse hotline is 1-(800)-800-5556. You can contact Susie’s Place Avon location at (317) 272-5696 or their Bloomington location at (812) 822-1570.