The Department of Human Services most recent Child Protective Services report shows 60 child abuse fatalities and 138 near fatalities in 2022.
The report shows 60 perpetrators involved with the fatality of a child in 2022 were known to the county children and youth agencies prior to or at the time of the incident, with 14 perpetrators never known to the system.
Angela Liddle, President and CEO of PA Family Support Alliance, a child abuse prevention organization, said when an individual is known by the county office that means they have had a report made with their name involved.
“So that could be that they had a report and they it was investigated, and it was not founded to be child abuse,” Liddle said.
The DHS report said some incidents may have more than one perpetrator, indicating a higher number of perpetrators than total number of reports.
Liddle said there are a number of contributing factors that increase the likelihood of abuse, including stress within a family, substance use disorder, mental health issues and more.
While 2021 was considered a COVID year, CBS 21 News compared the 2022 fatality and near fatality number to 2021.
In 2021, there were 58 child abuse fatalities, with 136 near fatalities statewide.
Out of the 58 child abuse fatalities in 2021, 35 perpetrators were known to the county agency, with 71 never known to the system. That total of 71 perpetrators never known to the system is much higher than the 14 perpetrators never known to the system in 2022.
CBS 21 looked back at pre-pandemic data as well. In 2019, there were a total of 51 child abuse fatalities, with 93 near fatalities.
Of those 51 fatalities in 2019, 27 perpetrators were known to the county children and youth agency, with 25 perpetrators never known.
Liddle said the reality is that no county office will be able to 100 percent protect children.
“You could go out as a caseworker and do a home visit and see kids and things could be find that day, and something could go terrible awry,” Liddle said.
From CBS 21, August 22, 2023