Lawmakers on the Child Welfare Oversight and Advisory Committee asked experts what more could be done to help children in abusive situations during the committee’s meeting last week.
Jill Seyfred, the executive director of Prevent Child Abuse Kentucky, and Kelly Crane, the state policy specialist for Prevent Child Abuse America, presented the committee updated statistics on child abuse across the Commonwealth and country.
Kentucky’s data, which was compiled by the Department for Community Based Services, showed 50,660 reports of child abuse met the criteria for investigation last year. The number of children impacted by those investigations was 76,106. Statistics put Kentucky as the worst case for child abuse.
Seyfred said Kentucky’s number remains high, in part, because of mandatory reporting laws and prevention education put in place over the last several years to combat child abuse. She said areas Kentucky could improve on to reduce child abuse included more money for education, families in need of services and social workers.
According to the Kentucky Task Force on Crimes Against Children, there were 13 confirmed incidents of sexual, physical or emotional abuse of children in Lyon County three years ago and 39 more cases of neglect.
Data suggest neglect has been the top form of child maltreatment in Kentucky for the last several years. The data also showed drug abuse in the home and mental health issues were major factors in child abuse cases.
“We know that the No. 1 referral source for abuse and neglect cases comes from teachers,” Seyfred said. “Anytime we can work with teachers and help them understand the issues, understand how to report, help them be more comfortable in that role, I think will be a benefit.”
Rep. Lynn Bechler, R-Marion, who represents Caldwell County, is a member of the Child Welfare Oversight and Advisory Committee.