GAO: US tracking of child-abuse deaths is flawed

America uses flawed methods to tally and analyze the deaths of children who have been maltreated, and the latest annual estimate of 1,770 such fatalities is likely too low, the Government Accountability Office says in a new report to Congress.

Better data, says the GAO, would aid in developing strategies that could save many children’s lives in the future.

The GAO report, the subject of a House Human Resources subcommittee hearing Tuesday, says state agencies and the Department of Health and Human Services should broaden the scope of data collection, improve coordination, and seek uniform definitions of abuse and maltreatment.

“We need to do a much better job working together at the local, state and national level,” said Theresa Covington, director of the National Center for the Review and Prevention of Child Deaths, in testimony prepared for the hearing.

In his opening remarks, the chairman of the House subcommittee, Rep. Geoff Davis, R-Ky., evoked the death of 2-year-old Caylee Anthony, whose mother, Casey, was acquitted of murder last week in a trial that drew worldwide news coverage.

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