Between January and May of this year, 23 children died of suspected or confirmed abuse or neglect, including drownings and traffic deaths, according to updated information provided Monday on the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services website.
DCFS Director Bobby Cagle issued a statement in empathy with families and community members seeking information and said individual records are kept confidential.
“The death of a child in our community understandably affects us all very deeply. It’s natural for families and community members to want immediate answers,” Cagle said. “While state law protects the confidentiality of records for children and families who may have come to the attention of child protective services, we are able to share statistical data.”
If trends hold through the balance of this year, the numbers for 2020 reflect a decrease in both the number of deaths — which totaled 107 overall — and the percentage of deaths related to abuse or neglect. In 2019, 286 child deaths were reported to the Child Protection Hotline, of which 71 were ultimately suspected or confirmed to be related to abuse or neglect.
More than half — 56% — of the 107 children whose deaths were reported to the hotline between January and May — the vast majority of which were ultimately determined not to have been caused by abuse — had a record of prior contact with DCFS, according to the data. The alleged abuse could have been entirely unrelated to the manner of death or could have been a case closed by social workers after determining that abuse had not occurred.