CDC report: Child abuse is hugely costly to society

When children are abused, the human costs are high, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Children who were physically, sexually or psychologically abused are more likely to have poorer health, social and emotional difficulties and lower economic productivity.

But the abuse also substantially impacts the nation’s health care, education, criminal justice and welfare systems – the costs from abuse and neglect are approximately $124 million just from one year’s worth of cases over the abused lifetimes, the CDC says in a new report.

The report, published in Child Abuse and Neglect, The International Journal, looked at 1,740 confirmed fatal cases and 579,000 non-fatal cases. Each child who was abused and lived cost $210,012, which is about the same as if each had another costly condition such as a stroke or diabetes.

That includes $32,648 in childhood health costs, $10,530 in adult health costs and $114,360 in productively losses. There also are child welfare, criminal justice and special education costs.

For the children who died, the cost for each was higher: $14,100 in medical costs and $1,258,800 in productivity losses.

“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,” said Linda C. Degutis, director of CDC′s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, in a statement.

She said public health agencies and policy makers need to understand the human and economic costs into account and dedicate the same resources it would for other high profile public health problems.

For more information on child abuse prevention and research, go to the CDC's child maltreatment website.

And report suspected child abuse to the National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-CHILD or go to the Childhelp website.

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