Some of the problems with data gathering and analysis is the sheer volume of information and the time and effort required to sift through it. It takes time and an incredible amount of effort.
Case in point, new studies being released today by the Inter-Agency Council on Child Abuse and Neglect, show a marked increase in childhood fatalities at the hands of a family member (33 up from 30), adolescent suicides (15 up from 13) and infant deaths (25 up from 20 - 13 accidents, 3 homicides) from 2004 to 2005.
Of the children killed by a family member, the bulk of the deaths were due to "Multiple Traumas". The bulk of these children (79%) were under 5 years old.
Now, sadly, this doesn't paint the whole picture. Check out the report (.PDF - available here).
There were 60,409 total cases filed during Calendar Year 2005 by the Los Angeles City Attorney's Office. Of this number, 784 defendants (or 1.29% of the total filed cases) had ICAN category offenses of child abuse, neglect or exploitation alleged against them.In summary, that's a fuckload of children being beaten.
...based on the ICAN established criteria, of the total child deaths reported, 297 were referred to the Inter-Agency Council on Child Abuse and Neglect for tracking and follow-up. Last year calendar 2004 the total child deaths referred to the Inter-Agency Council on Child Abuse and Neglect for tracking and follow-up was 275, a increase of 22 cases.
A total of 5143 cases were submitted for filing consideration against adult defendants. Of these, charges were filed in 48% (2462) of the cases reviewed. Felony charges were filed in 58% (1432) of these matters.
Now there's a lot of data in this report. It's 419 pages long, and not all of it is entirely bad news. The agencies comprising the ICAN are doing what they can in the face of an enormous caseload, 156,831 for the Department of Children & Family Services alone. There are a number of programs being put to good use. The Safe Surrender program has seen an increase in children given up for adoption, rather than being left in dumpsters, for example.
But there's an underlying message of tragedy, and a simple fact that the problem is enormous. It sometimes seems that the simple act of examining it makes it even larger. I doubt we'll ever be able to do enough, but at least there are people out there trying.