Over 121,000 Cases In North Carolina
Early data shows there were over 121,000 investigated cases of possible child abuse and neglect in North Carolina during the last fiscal year July 2016 through June 2017, including 1,507 cases in Johnston County alone.
State law requires individuals or institutions suspecting child abuse or neglect to report cases to the Division of Social Services (DSS) for investigation.
“The high number of children impacted by neglect or abuse indicates too many families are struggling and under severe stress,” said Rebecca Starnes, Vice President of Children’s Home Society of North Carolina. “Abuse and neglect can be the product of a number of issues facing families, including poverty, working multiple jobs to make ends meet, high levels of stress, unrealistic expectations of children, mental health challenges, or substance abuse.”
“DSS is an advocate and fail-safe for the more than 2.2 million children and their families in our state,” said Starnes. “This vital service is provided by dedicated and hard working staff in all 100 counties across North Carolina.”
DSS staff investigates and assesses all suspected cases of child abuse and neglect, diagnoses the problem with the family, provides in-home services to help keep families together, coordinates community and agency services or petitions the court for removal of the child from the home if necessary.
Nearly 70 percent of the abuse and neglect cases were reported by educational personnel, medical personnel, law courts and human services. About 30 percent were referred by relatives, non-relatives, parents, or care providers. Child victims reported fewer than 1 percent of the cases.
Around 45 percent of the cases reported during 2016-17 indicated that services were needed, recommended or have been provided. Services were not recommended for 40 percent of the cases and about 16 percent were determined to be unsubstantiated.
Demographically the male-female ration of the cases was nearly even at 51 to 49 percent. Almost 40 percent of the cases were age 0 to 5, with 39 percent 6 to 12. Roughly 20 percent of children were ages 13 to 17.
According to Starnes, abuse and neglect impacts rural and urban areas, crosses all socio-economic lines and includes every race.
Approximately 51 percent of the investigated cases of abuse and neglect last year were Caucasian. African-Americans made up the second largest segment with 36 percent, followed by Hispanic at around 11 percent. All other races combined, including American Indian and Alaskan, were roughly 13 percent.