Posts Tagged ‘ child abuse ’

Emotional Abuse Can Be as Damaging to Kids as Physical Abuse

Tuesday, July 31st, 2012

Emotional or psychological abuse can be as damaging as physical or even sexual abuse, an article published in the journal Pediatrics argues.  Time.com has more:

Psychological maltreatment can include terrorizing, belittling or neglecting a child, the pediatrician authors say.

“We are talking about extremes and the likelihood of harm, or risk of harm, resulting from the kinds of behavior that make a child feel worthless, unloved or unwanted,” Harriet MacMillan, one of the three pediatrician authors, told reporters.

What makes this kind maltreatment so challenging for pediatricians and for social services staff, however, is that it’s not defined by any one specific event, but rather by the nature of the relationship between caregiver and child. That makes it unusually hard to identify.

Keeping a child in a constant state of fear is abuse, for example. But even the most loving parent will occasionally lose their cool and yell. Likewise, depriving a child of ordinary social interaction is also abuse, but there’s nothing wrong with sending a school-aged boy to stew alone in his room for an hour after he hits a younger sibling.

All of this means that, for an outsider who observes even some dubious parenting practice, it can be hard to tell whether a relationship is actually abusive, or whether you’ve simply caught a family on a bad day.

Psychological abuse can also include what you might call “corrupting a child” — encouraging children to use illicit drugs, for example, or to engage in other illegal activities.

In their Pediatrics paper, MacMillan and co-authors say that 8% to 9% of women and 4% of men reported severe psychological abuse in childhood when the question was posed in general-population surveys of the U.S. and Britain.

Image: Sad girl, via Shutterstock

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Financial Crisis Could Be Raising Child Abuse Rate

Wednesday, July 18th, 2012

The financial crisis that has engulfed the nation over the past few years has had an additional negative consequence, according to a new study published in the journal Pediatrics: a rise in physical child abuse.

The study, which focused specifically on mortgage foreclosures, was conducted by researchers at the PolicyLab at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.  It found that every 1 percent increase in 90-day mortgage delinquencies over a one-year period was associated with a 3 percent increase in children’s hospital admissions for physical child abuse, and a 5 percent increase in children’s hospital admissions for traumatic brain injuries suspected to be caused by child abuse.

“What this research shows is that there’s a connection between child abuse and families in financial crisis,” said Bruce Lesley, president of the child advocacy group First Focus, in a statement. “Unfortunately, Congress may make the problem worse with cuts to child nutrition, children’s health, childcare, and family tax credits. If Congressional leaders don’t protect these investments today, the danger to kids will increase when parents are pushed into crisis. Lawmakers need to understand that decisions about nutrition, health, and poverty, are also decisions about child abuse and neglect.”

Image: Family finances design, via Shutterstock

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Study: Child Sexual Abuse Rate Declining

Monday, July 2nd, 2012

Though the Jerry Sandusky case, the ongoing scandal involving pedophile priests, and alleged sexual abuse at the Horace Mann prep school in the Bronx continue to make major headlines, crime statistics compiled by the FBI and other agencies show a decline in the overall rate of child sexual abuse.  The New York Times reports:

From 1990 to 2010, for example, substantiated cases of sexual abuse dropped from 23 per 10,000 children under 18 to 8.6 per 10,000, a 62 percent decrease, with a 3 percent drop from 2009 to 2010, according to the researchers’ analysis of government data. The Minnesota Student Survey charted a 29 percent decline in reports of sexual abuse by an adult who was not a family member from 1992 to 2010 and a 28 percent drop in reports of sexual abuse by a family member. The majority of sexual abuse cases involve family members or acquaintances rather than strangers, studies have found.

At the same time, the willingness of children to report sexual abuse has increased. In a 2008 survey, Dr. Finkelhor, director of the Crimes Against Children Research Center at the University of New Hampshire, found that in 50 percent of sexual abuse cases, the child’s victimization had been reported to an authority, compared with 25 percent in 1992.

The precise reasons for the declining rates are not clear. Dr. Finkelhor noted that most types of crime have plummeted over the last 20 years. But at least some of the decline, he believes, has resulted from greater public awareness, stepped-up prevention efforts, better training and education, specialized policing, the presence in many cities of child advocacy centers that offer a coordinated response to abuse, and the deterrence afforded by the prosecutions of offenders.

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Wisconsin Bill Alleges Single Moms Contribute to Child Abuse

Tuesday, March 6th, 2012

A bill under consideration by the Wisconsin legislature would penalize single mothers on the grounds that their unmarried status contributes to social ills including child abuse and neglect.

The state’s Republican Senator Glenn Grothman introduced Senate Bill 507, Yahoo! Shine reports, which contains language requiring the state to amend existing state law “requiring the Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Board to emphasize nonmarital parenthood as a contributing factor to child abuse and neglect.”

More from Yahoo:

The bill would require educational and public awareness campaigns held by the board to emphasize that not being married is abusive and neglectful of children, and to underscore “the role of fathers in the primary prevention of child abuse and neglect.”

Saying that people “make fun of old-fashioned families,” Grothman — who has never been married and has no children — criticized social workers for not agreeing that children should only be raised by two married biological parents, and told a state Senate committee that he hopes the Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention board, of which he’s a member, could “publicize something that’s politically incorrect but has to be said in our society.”

For more analysis of this issue from Parents.com, read Julia Landry’s post on Unexpectedly Expecting.

Image: Mother with sleepy baby, via Shutterstock.

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

Thursday, February 2nd, 2012

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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