Indiana child abuse cases nearly double in past decade

WLFI File Photo
WLFI File Photo

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The number of child abuse and neglect cases filed in Indiana courts has nearly doubled in the past decade.

There were nearly 17,500 “child in need of services” cases opened in the state in 2015, compared to nearly 8,900 that were opened in 2006, according to data recently released by the Indiana Office of Court Services.

“There’s very few cases that come up with just one issue. It might be mental health and substance abuse, there’s poverty … just multiple issues that these case managers are dealing with,” Indiana Chief Justice Loretta Rush said. “I would love a messy house case.”

Such cases have increased significantly in both Porter and Lake counties, the (Northwest Indiana) Times reported. LaPorte County saw a drop in 2015 after hitting an all-time peak in 2014.

Rush said she believes the spike is directly related to the increase in the abuse of opioids and other hard drugs.

“The surge in heroin, methamphetamine, fentanyl, parental substance abuse is just really taxing the system,” she said.

Indiana’s juvenile courts don’t have enough resources to keep up with Department of Child Services requests for abused children to be removed from unsafe homes, said Rush.

According to Rush, a report from a pilot program reported 25 percent of newborn babies at an Indianapolis hospital were born drug exposed.

By law any Indiana resident has the obligation to report their suspicions of a child being the victim of abuse or neglect to the authorities.