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The number of reported cases of child abuse or neglect rose by 54.9 percent from 1981 to 1985, but the resources to help such children increased by less than 2 percent in the same period, according to a Congressional study.

The House Select Committee on Children, Youth, and Families surveyed the 50 state governors and the mayor of the District of Columbia for its report, "Abused Children in America: Victims of Official Abuse,'' released this month.

Of the 1.9 million children who were reported by those jurisdictions to have been abused or neglected in 1985, most--58.5 percent--suffered from neglect. But reports of sexual abuse showed the most rapid increase, rising by 57.7 percent from 1983 to 1984 and by 23.6 percent the following year in the 29 states that compile such data. Respondents in nearly every state said the rise in reported abuse reflected "increased public awareness'' of child abuse; 60 percent also cited "deteriorating economic conditions'' as a factor.

In the 31 states that also made funding information available to the panel, the public and private resources expended on child-abuse programs increased, in real terms, by 1.9 percent--or a total of $37.7- million--in the same four-year span, the survey found. The researchers said the small rise was due largely to the loss of federal funds for those services.


The U.S. Supreme Court declined last week to review a ruling by an Indiana appeals court requiring 36 nonmembers to pay the local teachers' union about $190 each in lieu of dues.

The case, Stewart v. New Prarie Classroom Teachers Association(Case No. 86-554), stems from a contract provision negotiated in 1980 between the union and the New Prarie United School Corporation, which requires nonmembers to pay fees for union services provided for all teachers.

When the nonunion teachers refused to pay on the grounds that the law permitting such agency fees was illegal, the union filed suit against them in La Porte County small-claims court. The nonmembers' argument was rejected on appeal by the Indiana Court of Appeals.

When the case was returned to the small-claims court, the nonmembers objected to the formula used to apportion the $190.16 fee among the national, state, and local unions. They said forced payments of $128.45 to the Indiana State Teachers Association and $41.71 to the National Education Association violated their right to free association under the First Amendment.

The small-claims and state appeals courts both rejected that argument, and the state supreme court declined to overturn their rulings.

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