In downstate Illinois and Stephenson County reports of child abuse and neglect are on the rise. Stephenson County's rate was about 33 percent above the rest of the state last year, according to the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS).
A new DCFS report shows a 5.4 percent increase in abuse and neglect cases across downstate Illinois, with the exception of Cook County. These numbers are from July 1, 2011 to June 30, 2012.
Statistics that have come out since that time have proven that this trend is continuing. The Illinois Child Abuse Hotline reported to have received 25,348 calls of suspected abuse or neglect involving children from downstate from July through October of 2012. This is compared to only 24,053 children during the same months in 2011, according to the DCFS.
Stephenson County, alone, had a child abuse and neglect rate of 126 victims per 10,000 children. That averages to about one neglected or abused child in every 60 families. Winnebago County's rate was even higher at one abused/neglected child in every 50 families.
Dave Clarkin, a spokesman for DCFS, said that child abuse and neglect is not limited to children being physically hurt. It also includes unsupervised children, not being properly fed or clothed, or not have a roof over their head.
Clarkin says that the high rates of abuse/neglect in downstate Illinois may be partially due to the poor economy and lack of basic infrastructure in some communities that could help poverty-stricken families.
Health officials from the area were not surprised to hear about the high abuse/neglect rates in this county, but they were quick to defend the many programs in place that help to combat the issue.
If you and your family are going through difficult times or being threatened by separation due to abuse or neglect suspicions, contact a family law attorney. Roscich & Martel Law Firm, LLC can help keep your family together, so contact them today.