Iowa sees spike in confirmed child abuse cases

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Officials say publicity around high-profile child abuse cases in Iowa has caused a surge in such reports.

The Des Moines Register reports that confirmed child abuse cases in Iowa increased 26 percent, from almost 8,900 in 2016 to more than 11,200 last year. Child protection workers found more cases of sexual abuse, physical abuse, neglect and drug-affected children.

Lawmakers say they believe media coverage of the starvation deaths of Natalie Finn in 2016 and Sabrina Ray in 2017 increased public awareness of the issue. The state’s child abuse hotline received more calls following media coverage of the deaths.

Republican Rep. Bobby Kaufmann says the higher abuse numbers released this month indicate a need for more resources.

Gov. Kim Reynolds cut $4.3 million in March from the Department of Human Services, which oversees child protection.