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66 Indiana children died from abuse, neglect in fiscal 2014

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (AP) – A recently released report by Indiana’s Department of Child Services says 66 children in the state lost their lives because of abuse or neglect during fiscal year 2014.

The latest statistics show a more than 25 percent increase from the 49 child deaths in Indiana in fiscal year 2013, the Journal Gazette reported.

The department said that half of the children who died from abuse were one year old or younger. Of the neglect deaths, 46 percent were 1 year old or younger.

In one incident, a 3-year-old boy was fatally shot in the head by his mother’s boyfriend, who pointed a gun at him while playing a “gun game” with him. The man, who is now serving a prison sentence, said he forgot the gun was loaded.

There was also an increase in deaths due to lack of supervision. Officials said children were left alone around bodies of water, kept in homes with unsafe heating methods or practiced unsafe sleeping methods.

“Each one of these deaths could have been prevented,” said Mary Beth Bonaventura, the department’s director.

Gov. Mike Pence announced plans to hire more than 100 additional child abuse and neglect caseworkers last year after an increase in cases and a class-action lawsuit over allegations that the department’s caseworkers were overworked.

Bonaventura said in a statement that the issue isn’t one the department can handle alone and recommended that residents call the Indiana Child Abuse Hotline if a child is believed to be in danger.