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Child Maltreatment Trending Down in Idaho, and Nation

PHOTO: A federal report finds cases of child maltreatment in Idaho are trending downward. Blue and silver pinwheels are used in the "Pinwheels for Prevention" child abuse awareness campaign in the Gem State.

PHOTO: A federal report finds cases of child maltreatment in Idaho are trending downward. Blue and silver pinwheels are used in the "Pinwheels for Prevention" child abuse awareness campaign in the Gem State.


December 14, 2012

BOISE, Idaho – The number of reported child abuse and neglect incidents in Idaho, and nationwide, are trending downward – according to a new report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which analyzed data from last year (2011).

The news is being celebrated by child abuse prevention organizations, but that’s tempered by the numbers in the report.

Roger Sherman, executive director of Prevent Child Abuse Idaho at the Idaho Children's Trust Fund, says there were three fatalities in the Gem State that year, and about 10,000 reported cases of child maltreatment, all way too many.

"Seventy-six percent of those were for neglect. The perpetrators for the most part are parents. The highest rates of abuse are under the age of four years old, and it's the youngest kids who are most impacted."

Of the 10,000 reported cases, about 1500 were substantiated, and Sherman points out there is likely cause for concern in most of the other incidents. He adds that the downward trend may be proof that abuse and neglect prevention campaigns are working.

In Idaho, the focus is on family and community programs that help instill "protective factors" for families – such as social support for parents, education about child development and concrete help in instances of extreme stress.

Sherman says one of the biggest stress factors on Idaho families is economic.

"And at the same time, I think parents are showing an incredible amount of capacity to keep nurturing their kids despite that stress. And while the numbers remain way too high, we are seeing those trend downward."

Deborah Courson Smith/Deb Courson Smith, Public News Service - ID