Addiction fuels growing number of child abuse, neglect cases

One national problem plays a role in another

As cars pass by the Hope House of South Central Wisconsin on Ash Street, blue pinwheels are a reminder of a growing problem, child abuse and neglect.

“Over the years we’ve seen a number of areas of our program where there has been an increase in requests for service,” says Ellen Allen, executive director for Hope House.

While there are many factors that affect child abuse and neglect cases, increasingly addiction and substance abuse are playing a role.

“Addiction is a key trauma indicator,” says Janelle Krueger, director of services for Hope House.

According to the National Council on Child Abuse and Family Violence, more than 8 million children are living in a home with a parent dealing with addiction and substance abuse. That organization believes addiction is a major factor in abuse and neglect.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse categorizes addiction as a chronic disease. To prevent child abuse and neglect caused by addiction, individuals need to seek help. That is something that can be difficult.

“It creates a big problem because you have individuals who are afraid of seeking services because there is fear that their children will be taken away, and they will be reprimanded in some fashion,” says Krueger.

“The reality is these individuals need help and really deserve that assistance, and support so that they can become the parents that they want to become.”

For parents dealing with addiction, Krueger believes it is important for them to take the first step of asking for help.

“Get help. Reach out to an organization, like Hope House, and say, I need help.”‘

It is also important for family member, friends and neighbors to speak up and report suspected cases of child neglect and abuse.

“There is a campaign that’s called “see something, do something.” I think it is very simple. It is a simple message to us to speak out,” says Allen.

For more information about dealing with child abuse and neglect visit the Hope House website at: To report incidents of abuse or to request help, call their 24-hour toll-free confidential helpline at: 1-800-584-6790