By Josh Mitchell
Corinth Today News Editor
Mississippi’s child abuse and neglect rate easily exceeded the national average, a federal government report released last week shows.
There were more than 10,000 child abuse and neglect victims, or 14 per 1,000 children in Mississippi, compared to nine per 1,000 nationally. More than 8,300 perpetrators in Mississippi were responsible for the child maltreatment.
Corinth Today has requested abuse and neglect data for Alcorn and surrounding counties from federal officials.
Forty-one child deaths due to abuse and neglect were reported in Mississippi in 2016. Five of the deaths occurred in the 2015 federal fiscal year while the other 36 occurred in 2016.
The Magnolia State had the second highest reported child abuse and neglect death rate after Arkansas, according to the annual child maltreatment report. The death rate in Mississippi was 5.7 deaths per 100,000 children compared to Arkansas’ rate of six deaths per 100,000, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services report shows.
The national child death rate for 2016 was estimated at about 2.4 per 100,000 children. Nationally, 70 percent of children who died due to maltreatment were under 3 years old, and most deaths involved at least one parent. Some child maltreatment deaths may not be reported.
Child protective services in Mississippi had an average response time of 51 hours to reports of abuse and neglect. All states have laws mandating that certain professionals and institutions report child abuse and neglect, the report says.
Cases are screened in or out after allegations of abuse or neglect are made. Mississippi screened in about 85 percent of its cases for further review, which was the second highest rate after Alabama.
Once a case is screened in it becomes a “report,” which can be investigated. In some cases, child protective services may focus on the needs of the family and not on whether mistreatment occurred. Certain risk factors may increase the likelihood of child maltreatment such as alcohol and drug use.
To read the full report from the U.S. Administration for Children & Families click here.