MINNEAPOLIS - The number of children suffering at the hands of abuse has risen dramatically over the last year, according to state records.
Numbers from the Minnesota Department of Human Services shows more than 39,500 children were the subject of reports on child abuse and neglect -- a 25 percent increase from 2015.
Of those children, 16,400 were the focus of child maltreatment investigations, which is a 43 percent increase from last year.
Officials say there are a number of reasons for the sudden spike, including an increased awareness of child protection issues, how those reports are collected and the affects of increased opioid usage.
But what can be done? Gov. Mark Dayton said he has proposed financial assistance to strengthen safety for children and improve the policies in place at the local level. But the department is encouraging all residents to do their part.
April is Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Month and as such, the department of human services is asking everyone to help support children and their parents -- a strategy to help prevent abuse before it happens.
The department recommends the following:
• Listen to parents to understand what they are thinking and ask them to share some of the joys and challenges of parenting.
• Build friendships with parents — offer to go with them to the library, the park and community events so they don’t feel isolated.
• Encourage parents to participate in classes to learn about child development.
• Set an example by practicing nurturing and patience with children.
• Offer parents a break by watching their children or encouraging them to rely on their family members and friends who can help.
• Encourage parents to seek outlets ― reading, exercising and spending time with friends ― to relieve their stress.
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