Laws to protect children from abuse and neglect are not being properly enforced, and the federal government is to blame, charges the Children’s Advocacy Institute at the University of San Diego School of Law, NPR reports. Almost 680,000 U.S. children were the victims of abuse and neglect in 2013. More than 1,500 died. The numbers are lower than in 2012; children’s advocates say abuse is so often not reported that it’s impossible to know if there’s really been a decline.
The institute conducted a three-year study and found that no state has met all of the minimum child welfare standards set by the federal government. Those include such things as timely investigation of reports of child abuse. The institute blames Congress and the courts for failing to get involved. There’s broad agreement among those involved in child welfare that the system is in desperate need of repair, agencies are underfunded, and caseworkers are often overwhelmed.