Report: Jax less safe, secure for children

Annual report cites increased number of child abuse, neglect cases

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Jacksonville Community Council Inc.'s annual Quality of Life report released Thursday shows some improvements Jacksonville has made, as well as areas where the city needs work.

JCCI releases the annual report that monitors critical issues facing the region, hoping to bring awareness to the city's problem spots. Keeping the community safe is one of those areas.

The report indicates families are less safe and secure for children as child abuse and neglect reports increased for the second year in a row.

"Child abuse reports were a red flag," said Laura Lane, of JCCI.

The number of child abuse cases rose more than 10 percent in 2012. Lane said she hopes as the economy improves those numbers will go down.

"Job opportunities affect families, and ultimately, children are suffering in many ways," Lane said.

DOCUMENT: JCCI 2012 Quality of Life Report

In addition to child abuse, the overall crime rate went up nearly 3 percent. Jacksonville saw a rash of domestic violence last year, including several child abuse killings and six murder-suicides that seemingly happened all over the city from the Deerwood area to the Northside.

"We definitely continue to see a high demand," Gail Patin, of the Hubbard House, said of the domestic abuse problem in Jacksonville. "It definitely doesn't abate. We oftentimes don't have enough beds for people, enough staff to meet the needs."

Patin said it's no wonder child abuse rates are up, because domestic homicides are up, too. And when there is domestic violence in the home where a child lives, the child normally is affected as well.

"For victims of domestic violence, which are particularly women and children, there's a high incidence of child abuse in homes where there is domestic violence," Patin said.

She said domestic violence is too complicated to pinpoint why it happens, but that now that Jacksonville knows how bad the issue is, raising awareness is the next step.