ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) _ Minnesota officials say nearly 40,000 children were suspected of being abused or neglected in the state last year, a 25 percent increase from 2015.

Reports say the data posted by the Minnesota Department of Human Services also noted a spike in maltreatment investigations.

The report didn't detail what was behind the increase, but says it was likely due to in part to increased awareness and ``a growing opioid crisis.''

Gov. Mark Dayton focused on child abuse after the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported in 2014 that social service workers didn't follow up on abuse complaints about 4-year-old Eric Dean, who was later killed by his stepmother.

Dayton's moves have included ordering state human services officials to conduct monthly random screenings of child protection workers' decisions.

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