“Child maltreatment (a term that encompasses both abuse and neglect) is associated with physical injuries, delayed physical growth and neurological damage. Child maltreatment is also associated with psychological and emotional problems, such as aggression, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. In extreme cases, child abuse and neglect can lead to death.” According to Databank, in 2013 approximately 1,484 children died as a result of neglect or abuse.
It’s not surprising to learn that if a child is abused there is an increased risk for the child to engage in alcoholism, depression, drug abuse, eating disorders, obesity, high-risk sexual behavior, smoking and suicide later in life. Also, women who were victims of physical assault as children are twice as likely to be victims of physical assault in their adult life. There is also some evidence to suggest that victims of child maltreatment are likely to engage in criminal behavior as juveniles and adults, unlike people who are not mistreated.
It has been shown that child maltreatment is influenced by a number of factors. These factors include: the poor knowledge of child development, substance abuse, other forms of domestic violence and mental illness. Maltreatment occurs in families of all economic levels. Even though this is true the facts and statistics show that abuse, and especially neglect, is more common in poor families than families with higher incomes.
As if this information isn’t disturbing enough, research states that beginning in 2009 data for children regarding maltreatment was counted only once even if there were multiple substantiated or indicated cases of child maltreatment for that child over the course of a year.
According to Databank, the instances differ by age. Here are the statistics they found: Young children are more likely than older children to be victims of child maltreatment. In 2013, children three and younger had a child maltreatment rate of 14.3 per thousand, compared with 10.3 per thousand for children ages four to seven, 7.6 per thousand for children ages eight to 11, 6.7 per thousand for children ages 12 to 15, and 4.5 per thousand for children ages 16 to 17.
There are also differences by race and Hispanic origin. Black, American Indian or Alaskan Native, and multiple-race children have higher rates of reported child maltreatment than do other children.
These facts are very disturbing. There is a ray of hope, in 2013 there has shown to be a modest decline over the past six years. This gives us hope that the decline will continue and the trends will stop. I am no psychologist or medical professional. But, I wonder, if we know the factors that influence this type of behavior shouldn’t we make it our mission to get the people that perform these horrible acts the help they need by our professionals to lessen the chance of this occurring again and again. We need to speak for the children who have no voice.