DCFS: Number of children abused, neglected up in downstate IL

2012-11-19T06:00:00Z DCFS: Number of children abused, neglected up in downstate ILBy Edith Brady-Lunny | eblunny@pantagraph.com pantagraph.com

SPRINGFIELD — The number of children reported as abused or neglected in downstate Illinois has increased 5.4 percent, according to a new report from the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services.

Logan and Livingston counties in Central Illinois were among 35 counties that showed abuse and neglect rates more than double the statewide average of 91 indicated cases of abuse or neglect per 10,000 children, according to the report compiled by Northwestern University.  An indicated report means credible evidence exists that a child has been harmed or neglected.

Logan County ranked ninth in the state with 259 substantiated reports per 10,000 children and Livingston County was 27th with 187 per 10,000. McLean County ranked 56th among the state’s 102 counties with 141 reports per 10,000 children.

The reports cover the state’s 2012 fiscal year of July 1 to 2011 to June 30, 2012.

But the DCFS reports have resulted in a small number of cases reaching the level of seriousness that results in a child being removed from the home in both Logan and Livingston counties.

Last year in Livingston County, 18 cases of abuse and neglect were filed; so far this year, the total stands at nine cases. Logan County handled 37 cases in its child welfare court in 2011 and has addressed 39 so far this year. McLean County has seen 101 abuse or neglect petitions filed so far in 2012, compared with 128 last year.

The disparity between the numbers of abuse reports the state receives and court cases filed lies with the DCFS practice of working with families to resolve the issues without removing children from the home, said DCFS spokesman Dave Clarkin. Some cases involve a caregiver who is not a parent, a situation that also would not necessarily lead to removal of the child, he said.

Two factors are likely contributors to the increase in reported cases of child abuse, said Livingston County State’s Attorney Tom Brown.

“Any time you see an increase in a statistic in criminal law it’s because either that type of activity is up or the agencies charged with investigating and the victims involved are doing a better job of reporting it.  In this case, I think it’s a combination of both factors,” said Brown.

Logan County State’s Attorney Michael McIntosh said it’s hard to explain the fluctuation in abuse and neglect reports.

“More than anything else, it seems to be cyclical. It seems that we’ve had a bump in the number of cases, but no specific pattern,” said McIntosh.

The state’s Child Abuse Hotline received 25,348 reports of abuse involving downstate children from July to October, compared to 24,053 during the same period last year, according to DCFS.  The increase is part of a decade-long trend in child abuse in downstate counties, with last year’s total of 74,102 representing a 20 percent increase, said DCFS.

Twenty-seven percent of allegations were substantiated by state investigators in 2011, with 71 percent of the 29,044 children deemed abused coming from downstate counties, according to DCFS data.

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(8) Comments

  1. jm2
    Report Abuse
    jm2 - November 22, 2012 11:18 am
    I disagree with your 100%. There are plenty of men and women NOT in prison who grew up during the 'spanking" generation. Parenting is WORSE THAN EVER. NO rules, no consequences, defending their childrens' poor behaviors, spoiled, poor or no work ethic, questionable morals, poor role models . . . just work a few decades in a public school and you'll see.
  2. ct
    Report Abuse
    ct - November 20, 2012 9:41 am
    Anyone parenting properly has no reason to fear their life turning upside down....
  3. ct
    Report Abuse
    ct - November 20, 2012 9:40 am
    All the men in women in our prisons grew up during the 'spanking' generations and it didn't help them.

    Parenting is BETTER THAN EVER. Parents are more involved, investing more time and money, are better educated, and better understand the realities of parenting than ever before. There will always be rotten parents, but the number of clueless ones was far higher in the past.

    The good ol days are a big myth - for the lucky they were good possibly....
  4. GuardianAngel96
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    GuardianAngel96 - November 20, 2012 1:59 am
    Your right, any reasonable person SHOULD be able to distinguish between the two. But unfortunately there are so many errors in the system and the process that it has become so easy for someone to report "abuse and neglect" and completely turn people's lives upside down that don't deserve it. All I'm saying here is that there is a lot of variation with how cases are handled and it isn't right or fair.
  5. jm2
    Report Abuse
    jm2 - November 19, 2012 6:38 pm
    Swatting a child on the butt (aka spanking) is NOT considered abuse! When you "beat" a child on the butt or whip them with a belt or hit them and leave bruises, welts and other marks, that's abuse! Hitting a child in the head or smacking them 'upside' the head or face is also abuse. Any reasonable person should be able to distinguish between the two forms of punishment.
  6. earlyriser54
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    earlyriser54 - November 19, 2012 4:37 pm
    How about the more obvious and rational fact and stats that each year more and more City of Chicago and Cook County low income residents are relocated downstate? The real truth in numbers would be easy enough to compare if they reflected the number of abuse reports were categorized by one or two parent housholds and how many of the two parent households were married. Another factor would be the number of complaints coming from single parent homes that are living in government subsidized housing.
  7. GuardianAngel96
    Report Abuse
    GuardianAngel96 - November 19, 2012 2:44 pm
    This is a very touchy subject to comment on so I'll tread lightly here.. Maybe part of the reason the statistics have gone up in indicated cases is because parenting isn't what it used to be and because the people involved in reviewing the DCFS cases aren't thoroughly investigating the matters before indicating them (I know this issue from personal experience). You can't dicipline kids today the way you could when I was little because it is basically considered "abuse" to use any kind of physical punishment such as swatting them on the butt. I just hope that with this new form of parenting where we are told how we can and can't raise our children, that we aren't going to raise more generations that are always in trouble or don't know what a hard days work is. I miss the good 'ol days.
  8. E Paula Crowley
    Report Abuse
    E Paula Crowley - November 19, 2012 10:36 am

    We must take these statistics more seriously. We cannot dismiss the increases noted by stating only that "It seems that we’ve had a bump in the number of cases, but no specific pattern".... Surely there is a pattern. How about the possibility that needed services to families in need are fair game for budget cutters? How about the possibility that more and more stress is heaped upon families to keep up with test after test in public schools? How about the possiblity that not enough is being done to understand the abuse and neglect of children and adolescents?

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