As Child Abuse and Neglect Rises in Arkansas, Officials Call on Public For Help

More than 8,000 Arkansas children were abused or neglected in 2011, according to a report by the state’s Department of Human Services (DHS). The report shows a troubling upward trend in child abuse and neglect in the state, according to KARK 4 News:

The number of true cases has increased every year for the last few years from 6,701 in state fiscal year 2009 to 7,831 in 2010 and 8,573 in 2011.

In other words, child abuse and neglect cases in Arkansas have risen by twenty-two percent in two years’ time. Cecile Blucker, director of the DHS Division of Children and Family Services (DCFS), used a recent press conference to call on Arkansans to help lower that number during April, National Child Abuse Prevention Month:

“My division is actively engaged in efforts to prevent child abuse by helping strengthen families through an array of supportive services and by telling people about what is happening to the children in their communities,” Blucker said.

However, increasing awareness of the problems in American foster care is just one part of the solution, according to Blucker. She feels that a strong, supportive community is one way to help prevent abuse and neglect from ever happening–a sentiment echoed by one mother at the press conference who has experienced losing her own children:

“Heather McDaniel, 35, said at the press conference that she knows first-hand that support can make a difference for parents who are struggling and at risk of abusing or neglecting their children. Her children were placed in foster care as a result of neglect. After several ups-and-downs and more than a year, McDaniel was able to regain custody of her four children and the family is thriving. She encouraged parents to seek out support when they need it.

There are lots of resources available,” McDaniel said. “I didn’t realize all the help that was out there until I lost my children. Parents don’t have to lose their children to take advantage of that support.”

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