Rates of Child Abuse and Neglect Continue to Fall in Minnesota
GRAPHIC: Child abuse and neglect continue on a downward trend in Minnesota, but there are still more than 50,000 allegations in the state each year. Courtesy Prevent Child Abuse Minnesota.
January 8, 2013
ST. PAUL, Minn. - Some good news that will hopefully carry into the new year for America's children: The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says in a report that child abuse and neglect was down in 2011 for the fifth straight year.
The state numbers also fell during that time, but Karina Forrest-Perkins, chief executive officer at Prevent Child Abuse Minnesota, says this is no time to reduce investments and attention, because there's still a steep hill to climb.
"Approximately 55,000 allegations come in every year. Now, that's a conservative estimate because that's just what's reported. Typically, emotional abuse is rarely reported, and sexual abuse may not be reported for some time."
Perkins says some of the improvement can be credited to a change in philosophy, whereby, instead of immediately thinking punishment, families view child protective services as a resource for help.
"So that a family that is experiencing, maybe, an allegation of abuse or neglect that's not substantiated, but the family has exhibited that they have some high stressors in the home or in their world, then there are some interventions that we offer as a state."
The other shift in momentum is on the funding side. Perkins says currently 95 percent of all resources in a case of child neglect or abuse - both statewide and nationally - are spent after a crisis has occurred.
"So what we're trying to do is to put more emphasis on building environments where children and families thrive, where parents understand what positive parenting looks like, what it means. So we don't have to go spend $80 to $100 billion a year on the consequences on abuse and neglect."
Of the reports that do come in to authorities in Minnesota, about 6,000 of them end up with high-level investigations and interventions.
Nationally, there were an estimated 3.4 million referrals received by Child Protective Service agencies in 2011.
The DHHS report is at www.goo.gl/tJ2cF. More information is at pcamn.org.