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50 Hoosier children died of abuse or neglect in 2020, according to DCS

Death by weapon, including a body part, was cited as the most common cause of death.
Credit: WTHR
DCS Caseworker charged

INDIANAPOLIS — There were 50 Hoosier children who died from abuse or neglect in 2020, the Department of Child Services said in a report released Thursday.

Marion and Lake counties recorded the state’s highest number of child fatalities, recording seven deaths caused by abuse or neglect.

Over half those victims were 3 years old or younger.

Death by weapon, including a body part, was the most common cause of death. It was listed in 50% of the cases as a primary factor.

According to DCS, 44% of the deaths were declared homicides, while 34% of the deaths were ruled accidental.

In 78% of cases, the death occurred in the victim’s own home. 

The victim’s biological parents were often deemed responsible for the child fatalities detailed in the report, accounting for 81% of the alleged perpetrators, or 48 out of a total 59. Some cases cite multiple perpetrators as responsible for the death of the same child.

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In 2020, the Indiana Department of Child Services was called to investigate 281 child fatalities in which abuse or neglect was suspected to be a factor. This is up from 276 in 2019.

The number of children who died from abuse or neglect in Indiana decreased by 18% from 2019, when the report showed 61 children died.

DCS is legally required to review all child fatalities that fit the following circumstances:

  • For children under 1 year of age: the death is sudden, unexpected, unexplained or involves allegations of neglect/abuse.
  • For children age 1 or older: the death involves allegations of abuse or neglect.

The full report can be found here.

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