A statewide study found that the rate of confirmed cases of child abuse and neglect in St. Clair County has increased since 2010. However, Sherry Archibald, executive director of St. Clair County Child Abuse and Neglect Council, said the increase does not necessarily mean abuse is on the rise.
In St. Clair County, the rate of confirmed child maltreatment cases was 17.9 per 1,000 children in 2021. Data shows a 6% increase from the survey’s baseline year in 2010, where the rate was 16.9. Archibald said the increase could be caused by increased awareness, reporting and education about child abuse.
“It’s a reflection of doing a better job of educating the community and showing people how they can report abuse,” she said.
The statewide rate of confirmed child abuse and neglect is 12.1 per 1,000 children.
Kids Count in Michigan is a statewide survey that compiles child welfare data. The purpose of the survey is to raise awareness about the well-being of children and families. Kelsey Perdue, director of Kids Count in Michigan, said data is a tool to help people make decisions that can lead to tangible, positive change for children across the state.
“It informs decision-makers, whether they be leaders of nonprofit organizations or legislators, so they are prepared to make data-informed choices that can have the best impact on children and young people. families,” Perdue said.
According to Archibald, one of the biggest issues with awareness is that people find it hard to talk about child abuse. She said adults need to get involved and participate in education programs offered by the St. Clair County Child Abuse and Neglect Council.
“They need to be involved so they know how to protect their child and how to watch out for other kids who might be in trouble,” Archibald said.
The Abuse and Neglect Council also has age-appropriate education programs in schools so that children also know the signs of abuse.
Liz King, director and chief health officer for the St. Clair County Health Department, said the health department and community partners are discussing priority areas for the city’s next five-year community health improvement plan. St. Clair County. This plan will use data from the St. Clair County Community Health Needs Assessment and other related data sources.
“Based on primary and secondary data collected in our most recent 2021 St. Clair County Community Health Needs Assessment, this indicates that adolescent mental health, including negative childhood experiences, overweight/obesity and vaping, are major health issues,” King said.
Michigan and St. Clair County as a whole
Overall, St. Clair County is trending positively according to data from Kids Count. The rate of poor children aged 0 to 17 has decreased by 18.1% since 2010. In addition, the birth rate among adolescents aged 15 to 19 has fallen from 27.8 per 1,000 adolescents in 2010 to 15 .5 in 2020.
“I think this is a call to action to continue to properly investigate (abuse), dedicate resources to health and safety and increase early education,” Perdue said.
Michigan is also trending well in all categories of the Kids Count survey. Rates of poor households and children have declined. The rate of confirmed cases of child abuse statewide has also gone down. However, the rate of families being investigated for child abuse increased by 23%.
Recognize the signs of abuse
- Unexplained bruises, broken bones, black eyes and other injuries
- Anxiety, depression, sleep disturbances, return to bedwetting
- Sudden drop in grades, misbehavior at school, and sudden change in general behavior
- Demonstrates bizarre or sophisticated knowledge of sexual behavior
- Lack of medical care even after discussion with caregiver
To see something? Say something
People can report suspected cases of child abuse by calling 911 or by contacting the Department of Health and Human Services at (855) 444-3911. For more information about child abuse prevention, contact the St. Clair County Child Abuse and Neglect Council at (810) 966-9911 or go to www.sccstopchildabuse.org.
Contact McKenna Golat at [email protected] or (810) 292-0122.