A report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that was published in Child Abuse and Neglect – The International Journal, reveals that the total lifetime estimated financial costs that is associated with just one year of confirmed cases of child maltreatment, including physical and sexual abuse, psychological abuse and neglect, is about 124 billion U.S. dollars.
The researchers examined confirmed incidents of child maltreatment over the period of one year and found 1,740 fatal and 579,000 non-fatal cases. The lifetime cost for every non-fatal victim of child maltreatment was calculated at $210,012. This is comparable to other expensive health conditions like stroke, which has an estimated lifetime cost per person of $159,846 or between $181,000 and $253,000 respectively for type 2 diabetes. The cost of each fatality of child maltreatment runs even higher.
Linda C. Degutis, Dr.P.H., M.S.M, director of CDC′s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control declared:
“No child should ever be the victim of abuse or neglect – nor do they have to be. The human and financial costs can be prevented through prevention of child maltreatment.”
Those who survive maltreatment as a child consequently suffer from many negative effects, which include poorer health, social and emotional difficulties, and lower economic productivity. The new CDC study established that over a survivor’s lifetime, these negative effects generate numerous costs that have an impact on the nation’s health care, education, criminal justice and welfare systems.
The key findings of the study include:
A breakdown of the estimated average lifetime cost of a non-fatal victim of child maltreatment amounts to:
- $32,648 in childhood health care costs
- $10,530 in adult medical costs
- $144,360 in productivity losses
- $7,728 in child welfare costs
- $6,747 in criminal justice costs
- $7,999 in special education costs
A breakdown of the estimated average lifetime cost per fatal child maltreatment victim death includes:
- $14,100 in medical costs
- $1,258,800 in productivity losses
Child maltreatment can also be associated with many emotional, behavioral, and physical health problems, such as aggression, delinquency, conduct disorder, antisocial behavior, substance abuse, intimate partner violence, teenage pregnancy, anxiety, depression, and suicide.
Previous research found that because child maltreatment is such a complicated issue, there are no simple solutions. The behavior of an individual parent or caregiver is influenced by various interlinked factors, for instance, how they were raised, the level of stress in their lives, their parenting skills as well as living conditions in their community. Given the complexity of these factors, it is vital to invest in effective strategies that impact on all sectors of society.
Dr. Degutis urged:
“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.”
So far, numerous programs managed to reduce the number of child maltreatment incidents and demonstrated great potential in reducing the human and economic toll on society. Some successful programs are:
- Triple P is a multilevel parenting and family support system that aims to prevent severe emotional and behavioral disturbances in children by promoting positive and nurturing relationships between parent and child.
- The Nurse-Family Partnership is a proven community health program based on evidence, which partners a registered nurse with a first-time mother during pregnancy and continues until the child’s second birthday.
- ‘Early Start’ provides a coordinated, family-centered range of services and provides early intervention services to infants and toddlers with disabilities and their families according to California’s federal legislation.