Richard Calica tracks such grim statistics as director of the Illinois department of children & family services (DCFS). He visited Tuesday in southern Illinois to learn more about the disheartening trend of 220 child deaths from abuse or neglect this year.
He says he has no way to explain the trend, but noted while it might be popular, especially in this region, to think of child abuse and neglect as primarily a big-city problem that’s not supported by the data.
While the number of abuse and neglect reports is declining in densely populated neighborhoods in Chicago, reports are increasing in central and southern Illinois.
In the most serious cases, those involving child deaths, the most frequent cause is suffocation of infants — often when an adult sleeping in the same bed rolls on top of a very young child.
The second-highest total of deaths are homicides, followed by neglect deaths, frequently drowning.