West Virginia children are dying from abuse and neglect at a higher rate than any other state, according to the Justice Center at the nonpartisan Council of State Governments.|
"We are headed for a whole generation of lost souls," worries Nicholas County Circuit Judge Gary Johnson, who told the Charleston Gazette that nearly 90 percent of the child-welfare cases he hears involve substance abuse. "We don't address it until we address the drug issue."
West Virginians are more likely to die from drug overdoses than residents of any other state, and one in 10 adults has a substance abuse problem, according to the Justice Center.
Nationwide, child abuse and neglect reports have fallen for five straight years, according to a report by the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System, the number of abuse-related deaths hitting a five-year low in 2011.
But West Virginia, where 16 children died last year, had the highest death rate at 4.16 children per 100,000.
The number circuit courts in West Virginia has nearly doubled in less than a decade, clogging the court dockets.
The Gazette story gives cases reported in Calhoun and regional counties.
See State Must Curb Drugs To Stop Child Abuse, Experts Say By Vicki Smith, Charleston Gazette
CALHOUN HAS HIGH RATE OF CHILD NEGLECT AND ABUSE CASES