Wells County DCS responding to uptick in sex abuse cases

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BLUFFTON, Ind. (WANE) – NewsChannel 15 obtained child abuse statistics from around the area. They showed number of cases of sexual abuse, physical abuse and neglect from 2014 to 2015. There were significant changes between the years, but not as much as the number of sexual abuse cases in Wells County. It tripled.

Here are the numbers: in 2015, Wells County Department of Child Services actually investigated three less abuse reports than the year prior. Neglect cases went down from 118 in 2014 to 95 in 2015. Physical abuse cases went up by two reports from six to eight.

The largest change was the increase of sexual abuse cases to DCS from 9 in 2014 to 27 just one year later.

“It’s hard to know if there was a trend that’s specific, that is going on,” Wells County DCS Director Deane Holderman said.

Holderman said the department has investigated more sexual abuse cases due to internet predators and human trafficking than ever before. The largest factor to this increase is the drug epidemic.

“We see the opiates, we see the heroin, we also see the methamphetamine,” Holderman said.

Holderman said if a child is living with a parent who is addicted to drugs they can become susceptible to sexual abuse because a lot of people may be coming in and out of the home.

This much of an increase in sexual abuse cases wasn’t seen in any of the other eight counties. For example, in Allen County both neglect cases and physical abuse cases went up from 2014 to 2015, but sexual abuse cases went down from 217 to 182.

So, Holderman is trying to make sure local kids know what is right and what is wrong.

“One of the things we’re doing this year [which] we haven’t done in a while, we’re bringing someone in to do body safety presentations to teach body safety to the younger children to prevent sex abuse,” Holderman said.

This sort of presentation has not been in the Wells County elementary schools for at least five years.

Number are on track to be high again for this year.  However, the large increase in 2016 in Wells County has been physical abuse numbers. So far this year DCS has investigated 15 sexual abuse cases. The department has also already investigated 24 physical abuse reports. In 2015 that number was only eight for the entire year.

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