Oregon Posts Small Increase in Child Abuse, Neglect for 2002

Article excerpt

Byline: From Register-Guard and news service reports

PORTLAND - Fallout from unemployment, drug and alcohol abuse and housing problems helped boost confirmed cases of child abuse and neglect slightly in Oregon last year, a state report says.

The situation ``reflects the problems Oregon families are facing,'' said the study by the Department of Human Services.

The report said that of the 8,424 confirmed cases, a 2.3 percent increase over 2001, there were 21 fatalities, a number inflated by the deaths of seven children in two family murders in McMinnville and in the Oregon coastal mountains.

The experience in Oregon's 36 counties was irregular: In Linn County, 372 children were confirmed abused or neglected last year - increasing that county's rate per 1,000 children by 19 percent.

But Coos and Douglas counties saw significant drops in the rate of child abuse: The Coos rate fell 11 percent to 253 victims last year, while the Douglas rate fell 24 percent with 223 children harmed.

In Lane and Benton counties, meanwhile, the abuse and neglect rate remained practically constant with 1,012 and 80 children harmed respectively.

The slight growth of confirmed cases statewide is more or less in line with the state's population growth. Absent the seven familicide victims, the death toll was one of the lowest in a decade.

``What we're seeing is pretty much what we're seeing nationally, a similar trend,'' said DHS spokeswoman Patricia Feeny. …