The Florida Department of Children and Families conducted a study of over 200 child deaths in Southwest Florida dating back to 1997. Upon gathering and studying the statistics, Florida DCF determined that most of those deaths were preventable. The study concluded that since 1997, 83 percent of child deaths were caused by neglect with the top killers being child drowning and unsafe sleeping habits. The remaining deaths were linked to child abuse.
While studies like this can be informative and useful in the future, it is upsetting to know that so many deaths could have been easily avoided with just a few extra precautionary steps. While there may be many reasons or factors that lead to child abuse, there is never a good cause to abuse or neglect a child. Factors that may increase the incidents of child abuse include stress, loss of a job, poor parenting skills, and substance use or abuse.
If a person has a suspicion that a child is being abused or neglected by a parent, babysitter, day care center, teacher, relative, or other person, it should be reported to the Florida Department of Children and Families Abuse Hotline.
Pursuant to Section 39.201, Florida Statutes, any person who knows, or has reasonable cause to suspect, that a child is abused, abandoned, or neglected by a parent, legal custodian, caregiver, or other person responsible for the child’s welfare or that a child is in need of supervision and care and has no parent, legal custodian, or responsible adult relative immediately known and available to provide supervision and care shall report such knowledge or suspicion to the Florida Department of Children and Families.
For more on this story, see Most Southwest Florida Investigated Child Deaths Preventable.