Council for Children’s Rights released its 2017 Child Maltreatment Report this week. The annual report is published each year in April in conjunction with national Child Abuse Prevention Month.
During fiscal year 2015-16, 14,527 children, or 5.5% of all children under 18 in Mecklenburg County, were reported maltreated, up from 14,047 children in fiscal year 2014-15.
Reporting abuse or neglect is not only essential, it is the law. North Carolina is what is known as a mandatory reporting state, meaning that any person or institution who suspects that a child is abused, neglected, or dependent must make a report to the county department of social services. (To report suspected abuse or neglect in Mecklenburg County – Call 704-336-CARE (2273) Call 911 immediately if a child is in danger.)
Despite this mandate, child maltreatment in North Carolina is largely under-reported. To ensure every child’s safety, the community needs to be educated on child abuse, signs exhibited by a child who is abused, and ways to intervene. To better educate the community, the Council compiles information on maltreatment annually.
Key findings from the 2017 report include:
The number of children reported abused or neglected has increased 38.6%, or 4,046 children, since 2005-06.
In 2015-16, 50.4% of the Mecklenburg County children involved in DSS investigations were referred more than once.
Since 2007-08, when the gap was the widest, first time reports increased 15.5% or 966 reports and re-reports increased 74.9% or 3,134 reports.
In 2015-16, DSS received 7,723 reports of abuse and neglect concerning 14,527 children, up from 7,618 reports concerning 14,048 children in 2014-15.
Nearly 63% of reports include more than one child victim
The number of children in foster care decreased more than 39% since 2005-06. The decline in the number of children taken into custody reflects a 2008 federal law requiring DSS to invest in families to address maltreatment prior to removal.
Nearly 40% of children reported abused or neglected were under the age of six. This group consistently accounts for the greatest number of reports.
Of the 7,723 reports, 1,320 (17.1%) were considered substantiated. A report is substantiated if a claim of abuse, neglect, or dependence is verified by DSS.
Maltreatment is most often reported by the court, law enforcement, and educational personnel.