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DCS: 50 children died from abuse or neglect in Indiana in 2020

A former Department of Child Services family case manager in Bartholomew County is accused of falsifying assessments related to child abuse and neglect investigations.
Posted at 9:55 AM, Dec 31, 2021

INDIANAPOLIS — Fifty children in Indiana died from abuse or neglect in 2020, according to a report released Thursday by the Indiana Department of Child Services.

DCS investigated 281 child fatalities, an increase of five from 2020. The department determined 50 deaths resulted from caregiver mistreatment, a decrease from 61 in 2019.

The report said 31 of the 50 children were ages 3 or younger.

The department reviews all child fatalities that involve allegations of abuse or neglect, and cases involving children ages 3 and younger whose deaths are sudden, unexpected or unexplained.

“The decrease is a step in the right direction, yet I caution that this is not a reason to celebrate,” DCS Director Terry Stigdon said in a statement. “The loss of any child is traumatic for the family and the community. We hope the information in this report will help us collaborate better with parents, our providers, stakeholders, and community leaders to increase awareness of the risk factors that lead to these tragic incidents.”

The report also noted:

  • Thirteen of the 50 children were previously victims in an abuse or neglect case the department investigated.
  • Of the fatalities listed in the report, 22 were due to abuse and 28 were a result of neglect.
  • Marion and Lake counties each had the highest number of child fatalities caused by abuse or neglect with seven.
  • Seventeen of the deaths statewide were determined to be accidental, while 22 were homicides.
  • Death by weapon, including a closed fist, was listed in death certificates as the cause of death in half the cases.
  • Nearly 80% of the 50 children died in their home. Biological parents accounted for 81% of the 59 alleged perpetrators.

People can call the DCS hotline anonymously 24/7 at 1-800-800-5556 to report a child being abused or neglected in Indiana.