North Carolina Sees Decline in Child Abuse and Neglect Numbers
In 2006, North Carolina continued to see a slight decline in child abuse and neglect reports and investigations, and some declines in number of children found to be abused or neglected.
In state fiscal year (SFY) 2006, 111,150 children were assessed for child abuse and neglect, a decrease of 431 from SFY 2005. Of those cases, 16,753 children were found to be abused or neglected, and another 7,844 children were found to need services, for a total of 24,597, a decrease of 7.8 percent from the previous year.
"We are encouraged to see that the 'multiple response' system approach is working across North Carolina. With the implementation of this approach of assessing reports of abuse or neglect, we've provided services to 24,597 children to prevent further maltreatment. We're engaging families sooner and more intensely upfront, and we believe that is helping to prevent child abuse and neglect," said Esther High, acting chief, Family Support and Child Welfare Services.
"While we are encouraged that the numbers continue to decline, we cannot become complacent in our efforts to protect children," High added. "Let's never forget that every number counted is a child harmed."
The "multiple response" system of child welfare means that social workers have a more family-focused, less adversarial way to interact with families when the problem is neglect and the child is not in immediate danger. (Physical and sexual abuse cases continue to follow the traditional model of investigation.) A finding of "in need of service" means that social workers can immediately start serving the family to ensure the safety of the child. MRS was expanded to all 100 counties in January 2006.
Prevent Child Abuse North Carolina welcomed the declining numbers. "North Carolina citizens want to ensure that every child is protected form harm, and that all families have the education, resources and support they need to nurture their children," said Michelle Hughes, interim chief executive officer of the nonprofit organization. "The multiple response system offers child protection agencies and communities a wonderful opportunity to come together to support families in need before children are seriously harmed."