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Abuse and neglect

The law defines an "abused or neglected child" as one whose physical, mental health, or welfare is harmed or threatened with harm by the acts of omissions of the parent or other person responsible for the child's welfare.

In 1994, there were 986 Broward County youths in foster care placement. HRS estimates the need for 265 beds in a variety of special foster care programs and indicates that many of these youths are not in the recommended type of placement. Many youths are placed out of the County or State each year at a cost of $1,092,118 for special foster/group home placement. Many of these foster care placements are a result of either physical or sexual abuse having occurred in the home.

The Broward County Child Protection Team, which is responsible for providing medical examinations and consultant services to HRS in the area of physical abuse cases reported 1064 cases for 1994. This is a decrease of 46% from the 1956 cases referred to the Child Protection Team in 1992.

Information collected by the Broward County Sexual Assault Treatment Center, now the Phoenix Centre, indicates a trend in reported adult sexual abuse cases versus those involving children. Child sexual abuse case medical examinations increased dramatically from 1980 (175 cases) through 1992 (1381 cases), nearly a sevenfold increase. Reports of adult cases of sexual assault have decreased over this period of time with 337 cases reported in 1980 vs. 242 cases in 1992, a 28% decrease.

Since 1992, reported cases of both physical and sexual child abuse have decreased. Individuals working in these areas believe that both increased public awareness and prevention activities over the last ten years, along with improvements to the state's anonymous Child Abuse Hotline, are having a positive impact on the incidence of child abuse in our community. (Broward Needs Assessment)

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