SPRINGFIELD -- The Department of Children and Family Services says reports of child abuse and neglect are increasing across downstate Illinois.
From July through October, there were more than 25,000 calls to the state's child abuse hotline, representing a nearly 5 1/2 percent increase from the same period last year.
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There were 35 downstate counties that showed abuse and neglect rates more than double the statewide average, according to the data compiled by Northwestern University.
Most of those counties were in the far southern part of the state.
The department offered no possible explanation for the increase but said it was part of a decade-long trend.
DCFS is encouraging anyone who suspects abuse or neglect of a child to call its hotline at 1-800-25-ABUSE.