These are stark, grim figures from the U.S government: an estimated 1,770 children were killed as a result of maltreatment in 2009, while a 2011 congressional report concluded the real number could be nearer 2,500. Disturbingly, America has one of the worst child abuse record in the industrialised world. Now, recent figures show that child abuse and neglect affects over one million children every year, costing the country $220 million every day. Helping to raise awareness about this chilling issue is America’s Charities, which is working with one of its member charities, Prevent Child Abuse America, during Child Abuse Prevention Month, which is April. Prevent Child Abuse America has worked for over 40 years to ensure the healthy development of children and the prevention of child abuse and neglect across the States.
Child abuse and neglect takes many forms. The abuse can be physical, emotional or sexual; various types of neglect may include physical, emotional or medical. Unfortunately, children are sometimes exposed to extreme and sustained stress, which can undermine a child’s development. The abuse has a devastating effect on the lives of victims’ families, as it is has a far deeper impact that is felt beyond the relatives and friends. Abused children are 74 times more likely to commit crimes against others and six times more likely to maltreat their own children, according to the Texas Association for the Protection of Children.
For this reason, experts believe it is in the U.S. government’s as well as society’s interest to ensure that children are protected from abuse. Each and every citizen has a responsibility to help break this cycle of violence. When society invests in healthy child development, it is investing in community and economic development. The single best predictor of child abuse is poverty. Children raised in families with annual incomes of less than $15,000 are 22 times more likely to be abused. Since the economic downturn, there has been a spike in child maltreatment. The recent recession has been a death sentence for some American children.
According to UNICEF statistics, the U.S. is in a tie with Mexico as having the worst child-abuse death rate among 29 industrialised countries, at 2.2 deaths per 100,000 children under age 15. The future of a country rests with its children and family relationships are the single most important contributor to a child well being. It is through relationships that children experiment with social roles and learn and practise the control of aggression, the management of conflict, the earning of respect and friendship, discussion of feelings, appreciation of diversity, and awareness of the needs and feelings of others.
Agencies such as Prevent Child Abuse America are working to quash these dreadful statistics and improve things for these vulnerable children. Members of any community should watch for possible abuse and report it; make Child Abuse Prevention Month matter.
Photo Credit: Prevent Child Abuse America