LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — In the first five months of the year, 23 children died of suspected or confirmed abuse or neglect — including drownings and traffic deaths — according to new data from the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services.

“The death of a child in our community understandably affects us all very deeply. It’s natural for families and community members to want immediate answers,” DCFS Director Bobby Cagle said in a statement. “While state law protects the confidentiality of records for children and families who may have come to the attention of child protective services, we are able to share statistical data.”

In total, 107 child deaths were reported to the Child Protection Hotline for investigation between January and May of this year. More than half of the reported deaths were in families that had a record of prior contact with DCFS, according to the data.

Of the 23 who died as a result of suspected or confirmed abuse, seven fell under the determination of confirmed abuse and six had prior contact with DCFS — five of whom the department said suffered abuse at the hands of a parent or caregiver.

It is important to note, though, that contact with DCFS could have been for alleged abuse that was entirely unrelated to the child’s death or that case workers determined had not occurred.

In 2019, there were 286 child deaths reported to the hotline, of which 71 were ultimately determined to be related to abuse or neglect.

The DCFS website includes statistics on total fatalities, causes of death and child fatality demographics. The information is updated every six months and currently includes data for reported child deaths through May 31.

“My guiding principle has always been to make information available as quickly as possible under the law,” Cagle said. “We are public servants and we are accountable to Los Angeles County residents.”

Cagle also urged residents to report suspected abuse or neglect by calling the Child Protection Hotline at 800-540-4000.

(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)

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