The Kids Are Definitely NOT All Right….

I recently attended a briefing that left me physically sick to my stomach.

Consider the following statistics from DCS: between July 2011 and June 2012, there were 3,214 cases of substantiated sexual abuse of Indiana children. There were another 1,992 cases of substantiated physical abuse, and 14,802 cases of substantiated neglect.

These are just the cases that were reported, investigated and substantiated. The CDC estimates that fewer than half of rape and sexual assault crimes ever get reported, and it can be very difficult to substantiate those that do get reported. Even when we are counting only substantiated cases, however, in 2009, Indiana females in grades 9-12 had the second highest rate of forced sexual intercourse in the nation. (Indiana’s rate is 17.3% as opposed to the national rate of 10.5. Both rates are scandalous.)

Welcome to Indiana, where our elected officials talk a lot about our low taxes and not at all about our abysmal social health indicators.

Most of the abuse that occurs is what the reports delicately label “partner” or “intimate” violence–meaning that these young girls are being exploited by boyfriends, fathers, stepfathers, “funny” uncles and others within their homes and communities. In some of our more rural precincts, these behaviors are tacitly accepted or shrugged off. “Boys will be boys.” (I should note here that young boys are by no means safe from sexual assault, although fewer males experience it, and we should be no less outraged by their exploitation.)

The consequences of this behavior are costly for both the victims and society. Research suggests that victims of sexual violence are likely to suffer mental and physical ailments in later life: anxiety, post-traumatic-stress disorder, fear, depression…They are also more likely to attempt suicide.

Nationally, health costs attributable to rape and sexual assault have been estimated at $4.1 billion.

The familial environments within which these assaults occur makes this an incredibly difficult behavior to prevent. But there is at least one thing Indiana lawmakers can and should do pronto: commit the state to the crime data collection program certified by the FBI. Currently, Indiana has no state legislation requiring the collection of crime data. Approximately 30% of Indiana law enforcement agencies voluntarily report their statistics for inclusion in the UCR (Uniform Crime Report), but Indiana is one of only three states that lacks a centralized crime reporting program.

It’s bad enough that only a small percentage of rapes are ever reported; the least we could do is keep track of those that are.

Here’s a thought: how about we ask our lawmakers to divert some of the time and energy they are spending trying to marginalize GLBT citizens to efforts that might actually protect Indiana children?

Here’s another: Governor Pence has certainly been willing to name new “commissions” and “panels” to take over duties that were previously the responsibility of the Superintendent of Public Instruction. Perhaps he could take a rest from trying to undermine the election results, and appoint a commission to address the ongoing, scandalous exploitation of Indiana children?


  1. I have had a ring side seat to witness the results of abuse for the past 3.5 Decades. I hear countless stories of people trying to get their lives back together after years or decades of booze and drugs…..trying to kill the pain of their abusive upbringing. I once was at a meeting where ONE woman told a rape story at the beginning of the meeting. Almost every woman in the meeting (and a few men) shared their similar story. A few just stared at the floor and said “pass”. This is real stuff and it has life long consequences. LOW TAXES for the rich is not the way to help our young people. Crazy screaming people with Holy books won’t much help either. Perhaps funding social services and the police could help. Lets at least try.

  2. I learn so many things reading your posts and some of them really upset me. This is one of those times.
    I’m just sad now.

  3. Another commission, another law, another rule, another investigation, another news article but the results always seem to be little or no action resulting in more abuse, more deaths, more outrage by the public while little children suffer. If the amount of time spent on the aforementioned efforts was spent on actually doing something, the statistics would begin to lower as more children of all ages caught in this system were being protected.

    Here’s my personal horror story about this system. My great-granddaughter was born as a result of an interracial affair. My granddaughter wanted her to know her father’s family so allowed visits with aunts, uncles, cousins, grandmother and her other great-grandmother. When one aunt who lived in Ohio asked of she could please take the child home with her for a two week visit; at the end of two weeks she refused to return the child. After numerous requests by the child’s mother and grandmother, authorities here were contacted who contacted Ohio authorities. So now we have Indiana and Ohio police and Child Protective Services involved; involved to the extent that Indiana said it was Ohio’s problem and Ohio said it was Indiana’s problem. After three months of no action, the aunt in Ohio called the grandmother to “come get this child, all she does is cry for her Mommie.” Her mother and aunt drove to Ohio to get her; learning during the ride home and over time of the physical and probably sexual abuse she experienced. Nothing was done by either state regarding these criminal activities. Most of the horror stories we see on the news involve minority children; is this why my great-granddaughter’s situation was ignored? We will never know.

    Move to more than a year later and the child is again visiting her other great-grandmother here in Indianapolis; unknown to any of us was the fact that the Ohio aunt had moved back here. She happened to drop by to visit, spotted my great-granddaughter and AGAIN kidnapped her. She drove around all night, periodically contacting police on her cell phone. Finally made arrangements to return custody of her at the foster care facility on North Keystone. She was met by CPS authorities, IPD officers, mother, grandmother and great-grandmother. She was again not arrested but allowed to leave; again no legal action was taken. All of this happened in May; in September the crazy aunt “crashed” a family child’s birthday party, shot one of the fleeing guests in the back, killing her. She was finally arrested and is now in prison. Had she been arrested after either of the previous two kidnappings, the young woman at the birthday party would be alive to day. There are many repercussions to the lack of action taken regarding these children in dangerous situations. The children are the primary victims but there are countless victims in all of these cases. The powers-that-be need to s**t or get off the pot, as my little old Irish mother used to say.

  4. “Commissions” and “panels” leave me cold when children are in danger from those who should be protecting them and keeping them safe. Children are our best investment in the future. Damaged children are not. I am hopeful that Sheila’s blog will help to bring this sad situation into a brighter light. This calls for action, not “commissions” and “panels”.

    Thanks to Sheila and all of you who have the children’s best interest at heart there in Indiana.

  5. Legislators are equipped to make laws . Nothing more. The amount of child abuse in this state is disgusting, and the statistics you cite paint a hideous picture.

    All of the above being said, I am not sure what you wish our legislators would do. Pass laws against abuse and neglect? That was done generations ago. The problem is the mini-cultures and deviants that find this behavior acceptable, not our legislators.

  6. Much depends on the will of the legislature and governor to invest in protective services, and not be cheap about it. Organizing and hiring aggressive and efficient social services happens to be a measure of how much a state cares about the most vulnerable populations, and you don’t have to organize a commission or panel to find out from responsible people what is wrong with this state’s ability to respond and care for suffering people. I’ll bet it wouldn’t take the governor more than an hour to find ten knowledgeable people and invite them to a working lunch next week. I’ll bet I.U., IUPUI and Purdue might have some folks who could say something intelligent. I guess it just costs too much for them to care in any substantive way, not just about abused kids but infant death rate and delivering quality social and medical services of all kinds. We need to keep that money in reserve, but let us remember that Mike Pence is a Christian, so he has our best interests at heart, especially if we have lots of money and only need to state to help us make more of it.

  7. I hope the Democrats can find a candidate for governor who wants to campaign more aggressively than showing he’s a good old boy with nice parents. Every month, Mr. Pence provides more evidence that he’s a passionless empty suit who probably spends more time combing his distinguishing gray hair and figuring out how to undermine public education than he does about the common good.

  8. Adding to the problems with DCS lack of responsibility regarding safety of children under their guardianship, is lobbyist Eric Miller who is a strong Day Care Reform opponent. He charges that reform in church day care facilities as a threat to their 1st Amendment guarantee of freedom of religion. Apparently, tours of these and other day care centers, uncovered unsafe, unsanitary, appalling and neglectful conditions. Religion has nothing to do with these abuses of children just as politics SHOULD NOT have anything to do with the problems within DCS but…there they are.

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