CDC: Child Abuse Costs U.S. $124 Billion Per Year

A single year of confirmed cases of child maltreatment–including physical abuse, sexual abuse, psychological abuse, and neglect–costs the U.S. government $124 in expenses ranging from health care costs to productivity loss to criminal justice and special education costs, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says in a new report.

The report, which was published in the journal Child Abuse and Neglect, The International Journal, also found that the lifetime costs associated with each maltreated child (if that child survives) is $210,012, which is similar to the costs associated with major health problems like stroke or type 2 diabetes.

From a CDC press release:

Past research suggests that child maltreatment is a complicated problem, and so its solutions cannot be simple. An individual parent or caregiver’s behavior is influenced by a range inter-related factors such as how they were raised, their parenting skills, the level of stress in their life, and the living conditions in their community.  Because of this complexity, it is critical to invest in effective strategies that touch on all sectors of society.

“Federal, state, and local public health agencies as well as policymakers must advance the awareness of the lifetime economic impact of child maltreatment and take immediate action with the same momentum and intensity dedicated to other high profile public health problems –in order to save lives, protect the public’s health, and save money,” said Dr. Linda C. Degutis, [director of CDC′s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control].

Several programs have demonstrated reductions in child maltreatment and have great potential to reduce the human and economic toll on our society.  Several examples of effective programs include:

  • Nurse–Family Partnership, an evidence-based community health program. Partners a registered nurse with a first-time mother during pregnancy and continues through the child’s second birthday.
  • Early Start, provides coordinated, family-centered system of services:  California’s response to federal legislation providing early intervention services to infant and toddlers with disabilities and their families.
  • Triple P, a multilevel parenting and family support system:  Aims to prevent severe emotional and behavioral disturbances in children by promoting positive and nurturing relationships between parent and child.

Image: Hundred dollar bills, via Shutterstock.

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