I IN 7 CHILDREN ARE VICTIMS OF ABUSE EVERY YEAR
The Truth About Abuse
Child abuse includes all types of abuse and neglect of a child under the age of 18 by a parent, caregiver, or another person in a custodial role (e.g., clergy, coach, teacher) that results in harm, potential for harm, or threat of harm to a child.
There are four common types of child abuse:
Physical abuse is the use of physical force, such as hitting, kicking, shaking, burning, or other shows of force against a child.
Sexual abuse involves inducing or coercing a child to engage in sexual acts. It includes behaviors such as fondling, penetration, and exposing a child to other sexual activities.
Emotional abuse refers to behaviors that harm a child’s self-worth or emotional well-being. Examples include name calling, shaming, rejection, withholding love, and threatening.
Neglect is the failure to meet a child’s basic physical and emotional needs.
These needs include housing, food, clothing, education, and access to medical care.
Child abuse and neglect is highly prevalent. The latest data suggests that at least 1 in 7 children have experienced child abuse and/or neglect in the last year.
Child abuse and neglect is associated with several risk factors. Risk factors for victimization include child age and special needs that may increase caregiver burden (e.g., developmental and intellectual disabilities, mental health issues, and chronic physical illnesses). Risk factors for perpetration include young parental age, single parenthood, large number of dependent children, low parental income, parental substance abuse, parental mental health issues, parental history of abuse or neglect, social isolation, family disorganization, parenting stress, intimate partner violence, poor parent-child relationships, community violence, and concentrated neighborhood disadvantage (e.g., high poverty and residential instability, high unemployment rates).
Although risk factors provide information about who is most at risk for being a victim or a perpetrator of child abuse and neglect, they are not direct causes and cannot predict who will be a victim or a perpetrator.
Factors that protect or buffer children from being abused or neglected are known as protective factors. Supportive family environments and social networks consistently emerge as protective factors; however, other factors such as parental employment, adequate housing, and access to health care and social services may also serve to protect against child abuse and neglect.
The health and economic consequences of child abuse and neglect are substantial. Child abuse and neglect is associated with negative human, societal, and economic impacts. Children who are abused and neglected may suffer immediate physical injuries (e.g., cuts, bruises, burns, broken bones), as well as emotional and psychological problems (e.g., post traumatic stress, anxiety). Child abuse and neglect can also affect broader health outcomes, mental health, social development, and risk-taking behavior into adolescence and adulthood. Strong evidence confirms that childhood violence increases the risks of injury, sexually transmitted infections, including HIV, mental health problems, delayed cognitive development, reproductive health problems, involvement in sex trafficking, and non-communicable diseases. Given the high prevalence of child abuse and neglect and its vast consequences, the associated economic impact is substantial. In the United States, the total lifetime economic burden associated with child abuse and neglect was approximately $124 billion in 2008.
Child abuse and neglect is preventable. Much progress has been made in understanding how to prevent child abuse and neglect. Child abuse and neglect is the result of the interaction of a number of individual, family, and environmental factors. Consequently, there is strong reason to believe that the prevention of child abuse and neglect requires a comprehensive focus that crosscuts key sectors of society (e.g., public health, government, education, social services, and justice). In addition, there is an important need to increase the capacity of state and local governments to implement and scale up effective interventions that can reduce child abuse and neglect.
Preventing child abuse and neglect can also prevent other forms of violence. Each of the various forms of violence are interrelated and share many risk and protective factors,consequences and effective approaches to prevention. Given the overlap of the risk and protective factors for child abuse and neglect and other forms of violence, it stands to reason that the primary prevention of child abuse and neglect can prevent other forms of violence and abuse. Moreover, strategies that support the development of safe, stable, and nurturing relationships between parents or caregivers and their children could be key in preventing the early development of violent behavior in children.
Emerging evidence suggests that by stemming the early development of violent behavior, such relationships can also reduce many types of violence occurring in adolescence and early adulthood, such as youth violence, intimate partner and dating violence, sexual violence, and self-directed violence.
(Fortson, B. L., Klevens, J., Merrick, M. T., Gilbert, L. K., & Alexander, S. P. (2016). Preventing child abuse and neglect: A technical package for policy, norm, and programmatic activities. Atlanta, GA: National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.)
THE HARD TRUTH
HALF OF THESE VICTIMS WERE UNDER THE AGE OF 4 YEARS OLD WHEN THE ABUSE OCCURRED
CHILDREN UNDER THE AGE OF I YEAR OLD ARE THE MOST VULNERABLE TO ABUSE
1 OUT OF 7 CHILDREN WILL BE A VICTIM OF SOME FORM OF ABUSE BEFORE THEY REACH AGE 18
1 OUT OF 3 GIRLS (AND 1 OUT OF 5 BOYS) WILL BE THE VICTIM OF SEXUAL ABUSE BEFORE THEY REACH THE AGE OF 18
CHILDREN EXPOSED TO VIOLENCE IN THE HOME, EVEN IF THEY ARE NOT VICTIMS THEMSELVES, OFTEN SUFFER FROM THE SAME PTSD SYMPTOMS AS A COMBAT VET.
A MOTHER'S LOVE IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN YOU MAY THINK. THE ABSENCE OF A MOTHER'S (AND FATHER'S) EMOTIONAL INVOLVEMENT CAN ACTUALLY KEEP CERTAIN NEURAL PATHWAYS IN THE BRAIN FROM DEVELOPING - AND AFTER THE AGE OF 3, THEY CAN NEVER BE CORRECTED, MAKING THE "DAMAGE" PERMANENT.
1 IN 4 CHILDREN HAVE RECEIVED SEXUALLY EXPLICIT MATERIALS VIA TEXT MESSAGE, SOCIAL MEDIA OR ONLINE GAMING
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