During Child Abuse Prevention Month, we acknowledge the importance of families and communities working together to prevent child abuse and neglect, and promote the social and emotional well-being of children and families. But it’s important to know the facts, the prevalence.
In 2013, the most recent year for which national child maltreatment statistics are available, about 3.5 million reports were made to child protective services concerning the safety and well-being of approximately 6.4 million children.
From those reports, a nationally estimated 679,000 children were proved to be victims of child abuse or neglect. Of these children, nearly 80 percent were neglected, more than 15 percent were physically abused, and about 10 percent were sexually abused.
Child deaths are the most tragic results of maltreatment. In 2013, an estimated 1,520 children died due to abuse or neglect. Of the children who died, nearly 72 percent suffered neglect and 46.8 percent suffered physical abuse either exclusively or in combination with another maltreatment type.
Child maltreatment is associated with adverse health and mental health outcomes in children and families, as well, and those negative effects can last a lifetime. The trauma of child abuse or neglect has been associated with increased risk of:
- Depression and suicide
- Substance abuse
- Developmental disabilities and learning problems
- Social problems with other children and with adults
- Teen pregnancy
- Poor performance in school
- Domestic violence
- Chronic illnesses, including heart disease, cancer, and lung disease, among others
There’s a financial toll, too. One analysis of the immediate and long-term economic impact of child abuse and neglect suggests that child maltreatment costs the nation approximately $220 million every day, or $80 billion per year.
Stand up. Speak out against and report abuse. It’s easier to build strong children than to repair broken people. www.famchildplace.org.