Indiana Child Abuse and Neglect Statistics

The Indiana Department of Child Services publishes statistics on child fatalities from abuse and neglect each year. Here you can read report summaries and find the full reports as issued by the DCS.

State Fiscal Year 2016: 59 Substantiated Child Fatalities from Abuse/Neglect

To view the latest Indiana Department of Child Services Annual Report of Child Fatalities for the State Fiscal Year (SFY) July 1, 2015 – June 30, 2016, please click here.

This report focuses on the deaths that were substantiated as a direct result of caregiver maltreatment or neglect during SFY 2016. Whether from maltreatment, poor judgment and/or lack of information and resources, many child deaths are preventable.

The report is compiled using data from the DCS database; this system categorizes fatalities by the major category of death and provides detailed information about cause of death to gain a clearer picture of the types of abuse and neglect that ultimately resulted in the loss of a child.

In SFY 2016, 59 child fatalities were substantiated for abuse or neglect during the fatality review process – a decrease from 77 substantiated abuse/neglect child deaths in last year’s report. Of the total fatalities covered by this report, 24 were due to abuse, and 35 were due to neglect.

In fatality cases involving abuse, 21 of the 24 (88 percent*) children were 3 years old or younger. In those involving neglect, 25 of the 35 (71 percent) children were 3 years of age or younger. This finding demonstrates a consistent trend (nationally and in Indiana) that young children are at the highest risk of abuse or neglect.

Marion County recorded the most child deaths caused by abuse or neglect of any Indiana County (14 fatalities) in the time period studied; the next-highest areas reporting fatalities were Allen, Elkhart and Tippecanoe counties, which reported three fatalities each. 25 of the fatalities (42 percent) covered in this report were determined to be accidental; 24 (41 percent) were declared homicides. An additional four fatalities (7 percent) were listed as the result of natural causes, and the manner of death was undetermined for six (10 percent) children. Nine had prior substantiated DCS history.

Head trauma was cited most commonly in abuse-related child fatalities, listed in 22 deaths (92 percent) in this report. Beating/kicking was connected to seven (29 percent of deaths), and gunshot wounds were listed as a contributing factor in two (8 percent) deaths.

Motor vehicle accidents (12 cases) were the highest cause of neglect-related deaths (34 percent). Meanwhile, asphyxia (8 cases, 23 percent) and drowning (six cases, 17 percent) were the next-most common causes of neglect-related deaths.

Biological parents were most often deemed responsible for the child fatalities detailed in this report. There were 33 perpetrators cited in abuse-related fatalities; of them, 20 (61 percent) were biological parents. There were 47 perpetrators cited in neglect-related fatalities; of them, 33 (70 percent) were biological parents.

In some cases, caregiver stressors were determined to play a role in the death of a child. Insufficient income was cited most commonly, denoted in 37 of the 55 cases. A history of substance abuse by the caregiver was the next-highest category, factoring into 21 child fatalities.