INDIANAPOLIS | Four of the 34 Indiana children who died of abuse or neglect between July 1, 2011, and June 30, 2012, lived in Northwest Indiana, according to a state report released Friday.
The Department of Child Services' 2012 Child Fatality Report indicates Lake County was home to one child killed by abuse and another by neglect, Porter County had one child-abuse death and one LaPorte County child died of neglect.
The names and hometowns of the children are not included in the 37-page document detailing the causes and circumstances of each child's death.
According to the report, 60 percent of the 15 fatally abused Hoosier children were younger than 1 year old. Of the 19 child-neglect deaths, 63 percent never reached their first birthday.
Most children dying from abuse suffered fatal head trauma. The majority of children dying from neglect were fatally exposed to hazards.
The perpetrator in 85 percent of the child abuse and neglect deaths was the child's biological parent or the parent's partner, the report said.
The report found the top risk factors leading to a child's death from abuse or neglect were low income (49 percent), substance abuse (25 percent) and domestic violence (10 percent).
The Department of Child Services had prior contact with the families of seven children before their deaths.
"One child fatality is too many," said DCS Director Mary Beth Bonaventura, a former Lake County Juvenile Court judge. "We take this report very seriously and will use it to help us continue to improve our services to Hoosier children and families."
Overall, DCS received 177,542 tips to the child abuse hotline during the 2012 reporting year, investigated 295 suspected child abuse or neglect fatalities and substantiated 34 deaths from abuse or neglect.
That's six fewer child abuse and neglect deaths than 2011 and a 26 percent drop from the 2008 peak in confirmed child abuse and neglect deaths.
Hoosiers are required by law to report suspected cases of child abuse or neglect to the state's child abuse hotline at (800) 800-5556 or to local police.