- Associated Press - Wednesday, July 20, 2016

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - The number of South Carolina children dying from abuse and neglect increased last year, according to the state Department of Social Services.

DSS reported Tuesday that there were 28 deaths from abuse or neglect in 2015 compared with 22 deaths in 2014 and 25 in 2013, The Greenville News reported (https://grnol.co/29V3Gzb ).

“Anyone who has worked in child welfare knows that the hardest part of a caseworker’s job is learning of and responding to child fatalities that result from abuse and neglect,” DSS Director Susan Alford said in a statement to The Greenville News.

The state agency also said that the number of children served by the agency as a result of an indicated report of abuse or neglect increased to more than 20,000 last year. That was up from nearly 17,000 in 2014.

According to department officials, most of the increase is because of a new, centralized reporting system.

“Yes, I’m very concerned that the numbers are going up,” said Sen. Joel Lourie, a Democrat who is on a committee that has been reviewing DSS operations for the past few years. “But I would also tell you I think it involves more than just getting the agency the resources it needs.”

Greenville County had the most investigations of physical abuse last year, at 371. Greenville County also had the largest number of sexual abuse investigations, at 47.

“We all have a critical prevention role to play - from families to community organizations to state leaders - to ensure our children are safe from abuse, neglect and injuries,” said Sue Williams, chief executive officer of the Children’s Trust of South Carolina.

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Information from: The Greenville News, https://www.greenvillenews.com


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