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Indiana Child Services: Fatalities due to maltreatment rose in 2021

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Indiana officials on Friday reported 10 additional child fatalities from “caregiver maltreatment” in 2021 than a year earlier.

The total of caregiving maltreatment deaths increased to 60 in 2021 from 50 in 2020, the Indiana Department of Child Services says in its annual report for 2021. The department takes a year to prepare the report, which was issued as 2022 nears its end.

Forty of the deaths involved children 3 or younger. The 2021 report said, “This finding demonstrates a consistent trend (nationally and in Indiana) that young children are at the highest risk of abuse or neglect.”

The report added, “Substance abuse, insufficient income and unemployment were frequently cited as stress factors among caregivers.”

A summary of the 60 child fatalities showed:

  • 22 were due to abuse.
  • 38 were due to neglect.
  • 24 were homicides.
  • 24 were accidental deaths.
  • 38 of the deaths happened in the child’s home.
  • In 53 of the deaths, the child’s biological parents were deemed responsible for the fatalities.

“Death by weapon (including a body part; e.g., a closed fist) was the most common cause of death, listed in 22 (37%) of the cases as the primary factor,” the state’s 2021 report says. “The manner of death is obtained from state death certificates.”

Allen County, home to Fort Wayne and Indiana’s third most-populated county, had the state’s highest number of child fatalities caused by abuse or neglect, 11. Marion County, home to Indianapolis and the state’s most-populated county, had 10 child fatalities caused by abuse or neglect.