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DCF: South Florida Child Abuse Reports Up

Child-abuse cases have increased in South Florida, according to reports from the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF). This has department officials, child and foster care advocates, and guardians calling for greater awareness.

The news follows a year when DCF investigated some challenging, difficult, and by some reports, gruesome cases, according to a recent article in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

In Broward County, cases rose to 15,748 in 2010, compared with 14,876 the year before, according to the Sun-Sentinel’s report of the DCF numbers. In Palm Beach County, cases rose to 12,183 — up from 11,947 the previous year, the paper reported.

“You’ll see a lot of domestic violence,” DCF spokesman Mark Riordan said in the paper. “That’s where the cycle is perpetuated. It’s a learned response.”

Despite increases, DCF officials attribute part of the rise to differences in their reporting system, which now assigns investigators to cases that aren’t necessarily neglect or abuse. Cases now can include the power going out at a home because parents failed to pay the power bill, Riordan said.

Experts say it’s things such as a pile of unpaid bills because of a poor economy that can lead parents to excess stress and child abuse.

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