The Indiana Department of Child Services released its most recent child fatalities report this week, finding an increased need for safe sleeping practices and water safety.
The report details child fatalities and their causes for the state fiscal year 2015, which lasted from July 1 2014 til June 30 2015.
Of the 258 child deaths that occurred, 77 deaths were the result result of child abuse or neglect. Head trauma was the leading cause of death in abuse cases while asphyxiation was the leading cause of fatalities in neglect deaths.
James B. Wide is the Communications Director for the Indiana Department of Child Services and warns against co-sleeping, where parents sleep next to their infant child.
“A parent may fall asleep while the child is sleeping with them and accidentally roll on the child. And obviously it’s kind of hard for a child to push up on a grown up,” Wide says. “Those are the types of things that you see as far as the unsafe sleeping.”
Wide also highlights open water safety, saying that parents should stay vigilant when their child is near a body of water.
“Drowning is really a silent killer, it’s not like on TV where there’s a bunch of splashing and going up under and gasping for air,” Wide says. “Often times you hear nothing, so you and I are talking and having an intense conversation and before 5-10 seconds I turn around and I don’t see the child anymore.”
The report also found that there are a number of stress factors which may contribute to an increased risk of abuse or neglect of a child, including substance abuse.
Substance abuse was found as a risk factor in 46 percent of neglect cases and 17 percent of abuse cases.
If there is ever a time where abuse or neglect is suspected, Wide says to call the Indiana Abuse and Neglect Hotline at 800-800-5556.