Child Deaths Decreasing in Florida

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Associated Press Release

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) -- A total of 130 children were fatally abused in Florida in 2011, a decrease from the previous year.

A new state report released Friday shows that the number of verified child abuse or neglect deaths has continued to drop the last few years. There were 200 verified deaths in 2009 and 155 deaths last year.

Most of the children who died were under the age of five.

A state committee that reviewed nearly all of the verified deaths concluded that the most of the children died from neglect, with 32 children dying from drowning and 30 children dying as a result of unsafe sleeping practices that can lead to suffocation.

The state review concluded that most of the children who died from abuse had been previously abused.

Department of Children and Families Release

TALLAHASSEE— Drowning prevention and safer sleeping environments for children and infants could reduce unnecessary child deaths in Florida, according to a new report released by the Statewide Child Abuse Death Review Committee.

The committee recently presented its 13th Annual Report to the Governor and Legislature, highlighting key recommendations following the review of 126 child deaths that were verified as caused by abuse or neglect in 2011. Sixty-two deaths were caused by drowning or unsafe sleeping practices with infants.

“We are committed to eliminating child deaths from abuse and neglect by working with state agencies and communities across Florida,” said Surgeon General and Secretary of Health John H. Armstrong, M.D. “Promoting safer environments around water or while sleeping will help prevent profound heartbreak.”

The Department of Health (DOH) and the Department of Children and Families (DCF) worked collaboratively with the Statewide Child Abuse Death Review Committee, local death review teams, law enforcement, prosecutors, medical professionals and prevention specialists to identify risk factors associated with these types of deaths and to develop training on preventive measures.

“So many of these deaths are preventable,” said Department of Children and Families Secretary David Wilkins. “By working together, we can all do more to educate parents and caregivers and prevent these tragedies in the future.”

Some of the report’s findings include the following:

· The number of child deaths in Florida continues to decrease.
· Children under four are at the highest risk of dying, especially from preventable causes such as drowning and co-sleeping.
· Domestic violence intervention in families’ lives can prevent some child abuse deaths.
· Neglect is the leading factor in verified child deaths. Drowning is the top cause.

DOH is considering statutory changes to broaden the scope of the review to all child deaths investigated by DCF. This may improve the ability to craft strategic prevention and education strategies through a broader analysis. A copy of the full report is available at

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