Child Abuse and Neglect Annual Report of Child Fatalities

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Child Abuse and Neglect Annual Report of Child Fatalities

Transcript Of Child Abuse and Neglect Annual Report of Child Fatalities

Department of Child Services Child Abuse and Neglect Annual Report of Child Fatalities State Fiscal Year 2006 (July 1, 2005 to June 30, 2006)
Child Abuse and Neglect Annual Report of Child Fatalities
State of Indiana
Department of Child Services Published September 2007

Department of Child Services
Annual Child Fatality Report

Preface

Every year, the State of Indiana, through the Department of Child Services (DCS), reviews identified allegations of child fatalities that occurred because of abuse and/or neglect. If the circumstances surrounding the child’s death are sudden, unexpected or unexplained, DCS will assess these deaths to ensure abuse or neglect has not occurred. Abuse is defined in IC 31-34-1-2 as an act in which a child’s' physical or mental health is seriously endangered due to injury by the act or omission of the child's parent, guardian, or custodian. Neglect is defined in IC 31-34-1-1 as an act in which a child's physical or mental condition is seriously impaired or seriously endangered as a result of the inability, refusal, or neglect of the child's parent, guardian, or custodian to supply the child with necessary food, clothing, shelter, medical care, education, or supervision. Indiana law mandates that anyone who suspects child abuse and/or neglect must make a report to DCS. (IC 31-33-5-1)

A team of professionals from the county in which the child lived reviews each assessed fatality alleged to be the result of abuse and/or neglect. The local team reviews the evidence and determines if the death was due to negligence or physical harm caused by a parent, guardian or custodian. After the local team makes its determination, the State Fatality Review Team provides a supplementary review of each case and makes recommendations to the local DCS office regarding the findings of the local team. The reports are finalized at the State Office of the Department of Child Services and data is collected from the findings of the assessment.

The purpose of this report is to provide demographic information resulting from child deaths that occurred as a result of substantiated abuse and/or neglect. It is also the intent of this report to supplement these demographics with a description of the maltreatment that led to the child’s death. In turn, this information can begin to yield prevention strategies that Indiana as a community can implement to reduce the number of child deaths.

The report is shared internally with staff and externally with stakeholders to inform the reader of the dangers children are too often placed in that at times result in child fatalities.

The child fatalities within this report occurred during the State Fiscal Year (SFY) 2006: July 1, 2005 to June 30, 2006. The report is abridged in the Executive Summary and highlights changes or trends from the previous year. This Summary also includes a synopsis of data of all child abuse and/or neglect fatalities from SFY 2006, including demographic information pertaining to the

Prepared by: Office of Data Management

Source: Department of Child Services
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Department of Child Services
Annual Child Fatality Report
victims, perpetrators and households of these child deaths. Through analysis of this year’s report, the Department is able to identify the risk factors and home life circumstances that are common elements relating to abuse and/or neglect. In particular, this report reveals that unstable non-family relationships often pose a significant risk to children. In addition, the high number of shaken baby and blunt force trauma deaths emphasizes the vital importance of an adults’ ability to recognize and reduce stress factors that lead to frustration with a child.
This information aids in the development of prevention and educational programs specific for the community affected, and the State of Indiana as a whole. The data is also used to evaluate, review, and modify policy, practice and procedure where warranted. DCS recognizes the value of community protection and encourages all members of the public to become partners in preventing child deaths. In order to protect children from abuse and neglect, DCS must be proactive in the community. Neighborhoods and all persons having direct contact with any child must use every opportunity to be educated on the signs and symptoms of abuse and neglect, including the associated risk factors. The data assembled in this report is collected from multiple sources, including DCS records, death certificates, coroners’ reports, and law enforcement records. Information from child fatality assessments is divided by DCS into categories of types of maltreatment. Often these children may have suffered multiple injuries or are victims of both abuse and neglect. In every case, DCS has attempted to accurately depict the decisive factor of maltreatment that resulted in the child’s death. In addition, demographic information is collected on the surviving siblings and family members.
As of March 24, 2006, the Department of Child Services enacted policy per new legislative changes clarifying the definition of custodian. Per IC 31-9-2-31, “custodian” was amended to exclude unlicensed babysitters or unlicensed daycare providers. These changes affect the reporting period from March 24 – June 30, 2006 of the State Fiscal Year 2006.
This report contains information on fifty three (53) child fatalities at the hands of parent, guardian, or custodian as defined by Indiana Code based on the time of the report.

Prepared by: Office of Data Management
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Source: Department of Child Services

Department of Child Services
Annual Child Fatality Report

Executive Summary

There were 53 abuse and neglect fatalities substantiated in State Fiscal Year (SFY) 2006. Of these 53 fatalities, 30 (56.6%) were due to abuse and 23 (43.4%) were due to neglect. While this reflects a decrease in the total number of fatalities from SFY 2005, the fatalities attributed to abuse increased and those attributed to neglect decreased. Child fatalities from abuse increased by 6 from 24 in SFY 2005 to 30 in SFY 2006. Conversely, child fatalities from neglect decreased by 7 from 30 in SFY 2005 to 23 in SFY 2006.

Overall, the single highest cause of all substantiated fatalities by number was attributed to physical abuse blunt force injury to the head accounting for 15 (28.3%) of the total 53. Drowning deaths and deaths from shaken baby syndrome comprised the second leading causes of death each with 6 (11.3%) fatalities. There were 5 (9.4%) deaths each attributed to vehicular, positional asphyxiation, and asphyxiation/suffocation/strangulation. Following were four (7.6%) gun related deaths and 3 (5.7%) medical neglect deaths consisting of malnutrition, pneumonia and sepsis. There was 1 (1.9%) child death each for poisoning, stab wounds, drowning/vehicular accident, and drug-related conditions of child accounting for the remaining 4 fatalities.

While the total number of child fatalities (53) reflect a decrease there were also changes in the number of deaths occurring as a result of abuse and neglect as well as the primary causes of death. Increases included shaken baby syndrome deaths by 3 (6 in SFY 2006 and 3 in SFY 2005), physical abuse blunt force trauma to the head deaths by 2 (15 in SFY 2006 and 13 in SFY 2005), gun related deaths by 2 (4 in SFY 2006 and 2 in SFY 2005), vehicular deaths by 1 (5 in SFY 2006 and 4 in SFY 2005), drowning/vehicular accident death by 1 (1 in SFY 2006 and 0 in SFY 2005), medical neglect deaths by 1 (3 in SFY 2006 and 2 in SFY 2005) and a poisoning death (1 in SFY 2006 and 0 in SFY 2005).

Sadly, four of the 6 shaken baby deaths involved a male perpetrator who was the child’s parent and unemployed. In addition, two of the three gun-related homicide deaths involved parents in the process of divorcing. The gun related deaths included 3 homicides and 1 accident involving an unsecured gun.

Two of the six drowning deaths in SFY 2006 involved a bathing activity. The majority (four) of the drowning deaths involved children playing in or near the water while not adequately supervised. In SFY 2005 only one of the eight drowning deaths involved a bathing activity compared to seven of the eight deaths involving playing near the water while not adequately supervised.

Vehicular deaths increased to 5 in SFY 2006 from 4 in SFY 2005. As was true

Prepared by: Office of Data Management

Source: Department of Child Services
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Department of Child Services
Annual Child Fatality Report
in the prior year, all of this year’s vehicular fatalities involved drug or alcohol use. Of the five vehicular fatalities, restraints were present but not used in three cases, and two cases indicated there were not proper restraints present.
The largest decrease in the child fatalities child maltreatment types was attributed to positional asphyxiation deaths decreasing by 4 (9 in SFY 2005 and 5 in SFY 2006). The second largest decreases were scalding/burns deaths of which there were none in SFY 2006 compared to 2 in SFY 2005 and drowning deaths of which there were 6 in SFY 2006 compared to 8 in SFY 2005. The drug related conditions of the child death cause decreased by 1 (2 in SFY 2005 and 1 in SFY 2006). Other decreases included no fire death in SFY 2006 compared to 1 in SFY 2005, no suicide death in SFY 2006 compared to 1 in SFY 2005, and no undetermined death in SFY 2006 compared to 1 in SFY 2005.
There were no changes in the primary causes of death for stab wounds (1 in each year), and asphyxiation/suffocation/strangulation (5 in each year).

Prepared by: Office of Data Management
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Source: Department of Child Services

Department of Child Services
Annual Child Fatality Report

Fatalities due to physical abuse

Thirty (30) deaths resulted from physical abuse in SFY 2006. Physical abuse resulting in fatal blunt force trauma was the primary cause of death, accounting for 15 of the 30 abuse fatalities. The second leading cause of abuse deaths was shaken baby syndrome, accounting for 6 of the deaths. The 9 remaining abuse fatalities resulted from asphyxiation/suffocation/strangulation (4), gun-related injuries (3), stab wounds (1), and poisoning (1).

The following paragraphs provide summaries of the fatalities that resulted from physical abuse. These deaths represent more than numbers or statistics can convey. Each number is a child who had his/her life cut short due to abuse at the hands of a parent, guardian or custodian. By offering more in-depth descriptions, the intent of the Department of Child Services is to illustrate the circumstances surrounding each child’s death as a means to promote child abuse prevention efforts with ardent diligence. Note: These are the facts determined by the reviews described earlier in this report. They don’t necessarily reflect facts found by a court of law or other legal body of fact finder.

Deaths caused by skull fracture/blunt force trauma - Two young brothers died of blunt force trauma to the head after their mother bludgeoned them repeatedly with a 10lb weight. - A 10-year old girl was beaten severely by her stepfather and died because of her head injuries, yet she also suffered subsequent gunshot wounds. The stepfather shot and killed her mother and older sister as well. - A 5-month old boy was abused by an unlicensed babysitter and died of extensive skull fractures and brain damage. - A stepfather held a 1-year old boy in the air and dropped him into playpen sitting on a concrete floor. The baby landed on his back and died of severe blunt force trauma. - A 6-month old girl was found dead in her crib, and an autopsy revealed that she died from head injuries and skull fractures. The mother claimed that the girl’s 3-year old brother had caused his sister’s death, but the injuries were found too severe to have been done by a toddler. - A 4-month old girl died while in the care of a babysitter. According to the autopsy, the death was non-accidental and was a result of blunt force trauma and brain damage. - A 3-month old baby died due to blunt force trauma while in the care of her mother’s boyfriend who was frustrated with the baby’s crying and violently grabbed the back of the baby’s neck several times. - A 4-year old girl was murdered by her stepfather while her mother was at work. The stepfather turned the girl upside down, rammed her head into the floor and caused extensive skull fractures and irreparable brain

Prepared by: Office of Data Management

Source: Department of Child Services
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Department of Child Services
Annual Child Fatality Report

damage. Evidence suggests that sexual molestation may have occurred at some point prior to her death. - A 5-year old died of extensive blunt force trauma after her stepmother claimed she had accidentally hit her head while getting dressed. Her injuries were too severe to have been accidental, and the child’s stepmother admitted to throwing the child into a wall. - A 3-month old boy died of massive internal injuries and brain damage after being abused by his father. The mother returned from work to find the child unresponsive and his entire body covered in bruises. - While in the care of her aunt’s boyfriend, a 1-year old girl sustained injuries resulting in 4 to 5 skull fractures. The neurosurgeon stated “that a car would have to been going 1000 mph” for the child to have been injured so severely. - A 17-month old girl died of blunt force trauma due to abuse by her mother’s boyfriend. In addition to her injuries, the child was documented as severely underweight. Despite awareness that the child was injured, her mother left her alone in her crib for 15 hours before calling for medical assistance. - A 14-year old died at the hands of her mother and stepfather from blunt force trauma which was described by a doctor as a “pile driver force” to the head. The girl had been dead for several hours before EMS was called. She was also significantly underweight. - A 3-year old girl was beaten to death by her uncle after going to the bathroom in a bedroom closet. The girl was beaten on several separate occasions and then placed in the bathtub, unsupervised, for over 30 minutes. She was found in the bathroom unresponsive.

Deaths caused by Shaken Baby Syndrome - A father admitted to violently shaking his 6-month old boy, causing severe brain damage and other injuries. The child was blind and deaf because of the shaking, and died in foster care shortly after. - A 6-month old died from complications of shaken baby syndrome after being shaken by her father while her mother was at work. - A 7-month old died at the hands of a babysitter after sustaining severe brain damage consistent with shaken baby syndrome. His mother dropped him off with unlicensed babysitter and while in her care, the baby was violently shaken. - A 6-month old girl died from injuries after being shaken by her father. The man had been caring for four children and had called the mother (working a night shift) on several occasions to report “problems” such as fussiness with the victim. - A 4-month old boy suffered extensive abuse at the hands of both parents, and the autopsy revealed several rib and skull fractures. It was determined that he died because of complications from shaken baby syndrome. There

Prepared by: Office of Data Management
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Source: Department of Child Services

Department of Child Services
Annual Child Fatality Report

was a no contact court order from another state finding that the father was not to be around the child. - A 2-year old died while in the care of his mother’s boyfriend. The boyfriend admitted that he was agitated by the baby’s crying and had shaken him forcefully until the body went limp.

Deaths caused by asphyxiation/suffocation/strangulation - Three sisters, ages 10, 4, and 1, were murdered by their father after he beat
their mother to death with a lead pipe. He strangled the 4-year old with his bare hands and used an extension cord to strangle the 10-year old and 1year old. - A 1-year old girl was suffocated in her sleep by her mother’s boyfriend.

Deaths caused by gun-related abuse - A 12-year old girl was shot in the head by her stepfather because she
fought off his attempts to rape her. After he shot her, he proceeded to have intercourse with her. The man also shot and killed the girl’s mother and beat her younger sister to death. - A 4-year old boy was shot in the head by his father, and the father then turned the gun on himself. The mother was in the process of divorcing the father and moving to the East Coast with the child. - A 15-year old boy was shot and killed by his father because his mother was threatening divorce. The victim’s younger sister witnessed the shooting and was shot by her father while she tried to run away. Despite her injuries, she survived.

Deaths caused by stab wounds - A 4-year old and his 2-year old brother were kidnapped by their father. An Amber Alert was issued, and while being pursued by police, the man ran with the children into a lake and stabbed both boys repeatedly. The 4-year old died from a stab wound to the heart.

Deaths caused by poisoning - A disabled 8-year old died from a lethal overdose of her allergy medication
and an unexplainable amount of alcohol in her system. She had been in the care of her father and stepmother.

Overall, physical abuse fatalities compared to last year increased by 6 from 24 in SFY 2005 to 30 in SFY 2006. Specifically, Shaken baby syndrome deaths reflected the largest increase going to 6 in SFY 2006 from 3 in SFY 2005. Physical abuse blunt force trauma followed with an increase of 2 from 13 in SFY 2005 to 15 in SFY 2006. Abuse gun related deaths increased by 1 from 2 in SFY 2005 to 3 in SFY 2006. Also, there was an increase in the poisoning cause

Prepared by: Office of Data Management

Source: Department of Child Services
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Department of Child Services
Annual Child Fatality Report
of death to 1 in SFY 2006 from 0 in SFY 2005. Two categories which remained unchanged included asphyxiation/suffocation/strangulation deaths (4 for both years) and a stab wound death (1 for each year). There was a decrease of one in a scalding/burns death of which there was none in SFY 2006 compared to one in SFY 2005.

Prepared by: Office of Data Management
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Source: Department of Child Services
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