(INDIANAPOLIS) - The number of abuse and neglect reports to the Indiana Department of Child Services has increased 15 percent, according to numbers obtained by the Call 6 Investigator Kara Kenney.
In 2011, DCS received 151,440 reports of abuse or neglect.
In 2012, the agency received 173,541 reports of abuse or neglect.
As Child Abuse Prevention Month kicks off, child advocates and DCS workers say the trend shows people are more tuned in to the signs of abuse and neglect.
"Reports are up, but that doesn't necessarily mean there's more abuse or neglect taking place," said DCS Chief of Staff John Ryan. "What it hopefully means is people are more aware of abuse and neglect and are stepping forward and reporting it."
Ryan said about 18 percent of child abuse and neglect reports turn out to be substantiated.
DCS is making improvements, including allocating an additional $5 million for the Healthy Families program.
They also have a new director, Judge Mary Beth Bonaventura, who took over after James Payne resigned last year.
For Child Abuse Prevention Month, advocates are placing blue pinwheels all over central Indiana as a symbol of the childhood every child deserves to have.
"People are paying attention in a much more concentrated way and they're actually hungry for information to prevent," said Paula Sellars, child abuse expert and keynote speaker for "Breaking the Cycle" conference. "I don't think we've ever seen that before."
360 Hoosier children died from abuse and neglect from 2003 to 2010, according to child fatality reports.
Child fatality numbers are not yet available for 2011, 2012 or 2013 year-to-date.
To report child abuse or neglect, call the DCS hotline at 800-800-5556.
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