The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has released troubling new statistics showing child abuse-related deaths are on the rise across the nation. Texas saw the biggest increase, recording a spike of roughly 30 percent.
According the new study, Texas led the nation in child abuse-related deaths for the 2016 fiscal year with 217 child fatalities being attributed to abuse and neglect. This is up from 162 deaths the previous year.
Experts are struggling to understand the reasons behind the increases and have a few theories. According to TexProtects, a nonprofit focused on reducing child abuse, increasing caseloads for CPS employees may be preventing abused children from getting the services they need.
Another possible factor is the growing opioid crisis. According to Dimple Patel, associate director of Public Policy for TexProtects, 51 percent of child abuse-related fatalities recorded in Texas involved a caregiver who was either actively using or under the influence of drugs at the time of the child’s death.
While the causes are still subject to speculation, experts agree that early intervention for families where drug abuse is occurring and expanding services for families where abuse and neglect has already occurred are essential in curbing the problem.
The following information was provided by ABC News:
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