Posts Tagged ‘ child abuse ’

1 in 8 Children Abused Before 18th Birthday, Study Finds

Tuesday, June 3rd, 2014

Child Abuse GirlOne in eight American children have experienced a form of abuse, according to a new study published in JAMA Pediatrics. Researchers tracked child-abuse cases of more than 5.6 million children and categorized abuse to included beatings, neglect, sexual abuse, or emotional abuse. The study reveals that girls, racial minorities, and children under the age of one had higher percentages of abuse than their counterparts. More from HealthDay.com:

More than 12 percent of kids in the United States experience beatings, neglect or sexual or emotional abuse, according to a new study.

“One in 8 American children, at some point between birth and their 18th birthday, will be maltreated,” said study researcher Christopher Wildeman, associate professor of sociology at Yale University.

Although the percentage of confirmed cases of abuse and neglect is lower than 25 years ago, it’s higher than Wildeman had anticipated. “We compulsively checked our numbers when it came back as 12 percent,” he said.

The study, published online June 2 in JAMA Pediatrics, used information from the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System Child File. The database contains only confirmed reports of maltreatment.

The researchers defined confirmed maltreatment as “any report that was substantiated or indicated, meaning sufficient evidence existed for [child protective services] to conclude that abuse or neglect had occurred.”

More girls were mistreated than boys (13 percent versus 12 percent), and certain minority groups were more prone to abuse than others, the researchers said.

More than 20 percent of black children are mistreated, they found. “For Native Americans, the risk is closer to 15 percent,” Wildeman said.

For Hispanic children, the percentage is about 13 percent and for whites, close to 11 percent. “Asians had the lowest, at about 3 to 4 percent,” he said.

Risk is highest early in life, with 2 percent of children having a confirmed report by their first birthday, and nearly 6 percent by their fifth birthday, the researchers said.

However, fewer children suffer abuse now compared to several decades ago, Wildeman said. “There have been big declines in child maltreatment in the U.S. in roughly the last 25 years,” he said, citing other research.

About 80 percent of the cases the team evaluated were neglect, not abuse, he said.

The researchers tracked cases for the years 2004 through 2011, which included about 5.6 million children. They then estimated the cumulative prevalence of confirmed maltreatment by age 18.

The new numbers don’t surprise Janet Currie, a professor of economics and public affairs at Princeton University in New Jersey. “Child maltreatment is a huge and underappreciated public health problem,” said Currie, who was not involved in the study.

In her own recent research, she found that child maltreatment is the leading cause of death from injuries in children older than 1 year.

Because the new report only focuses on confirmed cases, she said it might underestimate the scope of the problem. “Cases may not be confirmed for various reasons, including lack of child welfare staff available to investigate a report,’” she said.

Anyone who suspects a child is mistreated should notify their local or state child protective services or police department, experts say. “Many suspected cases are not verified, but it is better to be safe than sorry about this,” she added.

Telltale signs of abuse include unexplained bruises or burns; fear of going home; age-inappropriate behaviors such as thumb-sucking or bed-wetting, or inappropriate sexual behaviors. A child who is chronically unwashed may be neglected. Other signs of possible neglect are lack of medical or dental care or drug or alcohol abuse, experts say.

To reduce the risk of mistreatment, friends and family should be especially attentive to the needs of parents of very young children, Wildeman said. “The risk of childhood maltreatment is about four times higher in the first year than any other age,” he said, citing his research.

Having loved ones pitch in during that time might ease the burden and the stress, Wildeman said.

Protect your child from predators with these important tips!

Baby Care Basics: What is Shaken Baby Syndrome?
Baby Care Basics: What is Shaken Baby Syndrome?
Baby Care Basics: What is Shaken Baby Syndrome?

Image: Neglect via ShutterStock

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Kids Exposed to Less Violence, Study Finds

Thursday, May 1st, 2014

Despite ongoing concerns about a violent culture and its affect on America’s youth, a new study published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics has found that kids today may actually be exposed to less violent crime today than a decade ago.  More from Time.com:

Mass shootings and severe cyberbullying cases have peppered the news over the past few years, suggesting that as a species, we’re getting more brutal, not less. But many researchers agree this is a common misconception. In actuality, violence is on the decline, and a new study published today in the journal JAMA Pediatrics finds that kids’ exposure to violence in particular has dropped significantly.

The researchers analyzed surveys of over 10,000 kids and caregivers in 2003, 2008 and 2011, and found that nationwide there were major drops in assaults involving weapons and injuries; assaults by peers and siblings; physical and emotional bullying; and sexual victimization. While acknowledging that it’s possible the children surveyed were not all entirely forthcoming — for kids under 10, the parent stayed on the phone during the conversation; the rest were passed the phone by a parent — researchers think that overall, respondents told the truth about their exposure to violence. “We probably have an undercount,” says study author David Finkelhor, director of the Crimes Against Children Research Center. “But the important thing for studying trends is that we have no reason to think that the undercounting is responsible for any of the trend findings.”

And the new results are consistent with other evidence that shows child maltreatment is dropping. The National Crime Victimization Survey, considered the nation’s premier source of information on criminal victimization, shows kids’ exposure to violent crime has fallen since 2008. Sexual abuse is also down, as are police reports of crime and homicide.

The researchers of the JAMA Pediatrics study have a few theories as to why. One is that the dissemination of violence prevention and intervention strategies, like school programs targeting bullying and dating violence, has been effective. Another, perhaps more surprising theory, is that the growing use of psychiatric medication among youth and adults has tamped down their aggression. And of course, there’s a theory that increased use of technology has resulted in less face-to-face violent confrontations.

There’s some contradictory evidence, though, too — for instance the data showing a rise in hospital-treated abusive-head-trauma cases from 2007 to 2009, and evidence that real-life bullying is still more prevalent than cyberbullying. “Claims by the media and researchers that cyberbullying has increased dramatically … are largely exaggerated,” researcher Dan Olweus, a psychologist at the University of Bergen, Norway, said in a statement.

Image: Father and daughter hugging, via Shutterstock

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Parenting Book’s Techniques Blamed for Multiple Deaths; Petition Circulates

Tuesday, November 26th, 2013

“To Train Up a Child,” a parenting book that advocates parents use such extreme discipline measures as starvation and severe beatings with switches and plastic tubes, has been implicated in the murders of three children, all adoptees:  4-year-old Sean Paddock, 7-year-old Lydia Schatz, and 13-year-old Hana Williams.  Last month, Williams’ adoptive parents, Larry and Carri Williams, were convicted of homicide by abuse after the girl died of malnutrition and hypothermia, both punishments linked with advice from the book, which was written by a preacher and his wife.  Politix.com reports on a petition that is circulating urging Amazon.com to remove the book from its website–so far, the petition has garnered more than 80,000 signatures:

The book by preacher Michael Pearl and his wife Debi advocates using a switch on babies starting at 6 months old. The book also recommends beating older children with a flexible plumbing pipe that “can be rolled up and carried in your pocket.” The Williams’s seem to have taken that advice to heart. When Hana died, her body was scarred by beatings with the plumbing line.

The same kind of tubing was used to beat Lydia Schatz, 7, whose adoptive parents were convicted of second-degree murder in her death. Her parents would intersperse beatings with prayer. Lydia “died from severe tissue damage, and her older sister had to be hospitalized,” the New York Times reports. Another small child, 4-year-old Sean Paddock, was scarred by beatings with the tubing when he died at the hands of his adoptive parents.

The Williams’s told friends that Hana was “rebellious” and recommended To Train up a Child as manual for dealing with rebellious children, according to Slate. Hana has also been deprived of food (perhaps following the Pearls’ advice that “a little fasting is good training”) and forced to shower outside and sleep in a barn without bedding, even in freezing weather.

Currently over 670,000 copies of To Train Up a Child are in circulation.

Discipline Without Spanking
Discipline Without Spanking
Discipline Without Spanking

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Death Highlights Child Marriage Dangers in Yemen

Tuesday, September 17th, 2013

The death of 8-year-old girl named Rawan, who reportedly died from injuries sustained in Yemen on her wedding night, has brought to national attention the issues–and dangers–associated with legal child marriage in that country.  A growing number of voices are calling for the practice to be outlawed, as CNN.com reports:

When reports emerged last week that a girl named Rawan, from the northern Yemeni town of Haradh, died a few days after being married off to a 40-year-old man, Yemenis were horrified.

International outrage quickly grew, as the alleged incident highlighted once again the extremely controversial issue of child marriage in Yemen — a country where the practice is still legal.

Residents of Haradh told local media outlets that Rawan’s cause of death was internal bleeding, believed to be the result of sexual intercourse that tore her uterus and other organs.

Local officials, however, have denied the story is true.

Amidst the numerous claims and counterclaims, Hooria Mashhour, Yemen’s human rights minister, has declared enough is enough — telling CNN that the growing anger over Rawan’s case has presented Yemen with an opportunity to finally do the right thing.

“This isn’t the first time a child marriage has happened in Yemen, so we should not focus only on this case,” Mashhour said.

“Many child marriages take place every year in Yemen. It’s time to end this practice.”

“I personally have (talked to) the human rights coordinator for the ministry on the ground in Haradh,” said Mashhour, “and he informed me that nearly everyone he spoke to is denying the story, but he feels strongly suspicious. We feel people may be hiding information due to fear.”

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Child Abuse Down, Neglect Up

Friday, September 13th, 2013

Physical and sexual abuse of children has declined over the past two decades, but the number of children who experience emotional abuse and neglect–mostly by their parents–is increasing.  These are the findings of a report by the Institute of Medicine, where researchers called the data a mixed blessing.  More from NBC News:

Dr. Lolita McDavid, medical director of child advocacy and protection at University Hospitals Case Medical Center in Cleveland, says she believes awareness explains a lot. “I think we are much more aware now that there is physical and sexual abuse and I think we do a much better job of making families and children understand that,” McDavid told NBC News.

“We are empowering children.”

But the experts say it’s vital to look into the reasons that physical abuse may be going down, yet neglect and emotional abuse are staying at the same levels. They call for sustained federal research into what’s going on and a new database to track child abuse statistics.

Even if numbers are going down, overall, many children are abused and neglected in the United States, the panel of experts reports.

“Each year more than 3 million referrals for child abuse and neglect are received that involve around 6 million children, although most of these reports are not substantiated,” the report reads.

Image: Neglected girl, via Shutterstock

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