Often you read newspaper articles and see TV commentaries about the treatment of the detainees at Guantanamo Bay. The silencing of their claims of abuse are big news stories. And yet, the same treatment of millions of children in the United States who grow up to be adult survivors of abuse is not “newsworthy” as many editors have told me – including the Washington Post and the New York Times. They give non-stop coverage as long as it is titillating and sensational but refuse to talk about the enormous issues affecting the daily lives of adult survivors of child abuse and neglect.
Here are the alarming statistics:
- One in four girls and one in six boys will be sexually assaulted before they reach the age of 18.1
- The rate of child abuse and neglect is 10 times as high (40 children per 1,000 children per year) as the incidence rate for all forms of cancer combined (3.9 individuals per thousand individuals per year).2
- Children in the age group of birth to 1-year-old had the highest rate of victimization (2.4 children per 1,000 children) of the same age group in the national population.3
- Brain injury is the leading cause of death in abused children.4
- The National Center on Child Abuse and Neglect (NCCAN) estimated that the incidence of disabilities caused by or likely to be caused by physical abuse was 147 per 1,000 maltreated children.5
- Orofacial trauma occurs in at least 50% of children diagnosed with physical abuse.6
- 95% of serious intracranial injuries and 64% of all head injuries in infants younger than 1-year-old were attributable to child abuse.7
- 62% of pregnant and parenting female adolescents were found to have experienced molestation, attempted rape or rape prior to their first pregnancy.8
- Approximately 30% of abused children have some type of language or cognitive impairment, over 50% of abused children have socio-emotional problems, over 22% of abused children have a learning disorder, and approximately 14% of abused children exhibit self-mutilative or other self-destructive behavior.9
And yet, all you hear in the media is dismay about obesity in America, fighting the drug wars and discouraging unwanted pregnancies. Don’t you think it is time to start talking about the root causes of these behaviors - child abuse?
1 http://www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/ace/prevalence.htm ACE Study - Prevalence - Adverse Childhood Experiences
2Child Welfare League of America, “Testimony submitted to the House Subcommittee on Select Education of the Committee on Education and the Workforce for the hearing on CAPTA: Successes and Failures at Preventing Child Abuse, August 2, 2001
3HHS Releases National Statistics on Child Abuse and Neglect for 2006, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Child Maltreatment 2006
4JAMA, Vol. 290 No.5, August 6, 2003
5National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System: 1991 Summary Data Component. Washington, DC: Government Printing Office; 1993. Working Paper 2.
6Cairns AM, Mok JYQ, Welbury RR. Injuries to the head, face, mouth and neck in physically abused children in a community setting. In J Paediatr Dent 2005: 15: 310-318
7Billmire ME, Myers PA, Serious head injury in infants: accident or abuse? Pediatrics 1985; 75: 340-342
8Sexual Abuse as a Factor in Adolescent Pregnancy and Child Maltreatment, Boyer, Debra, Fine, & David, FamilyPlanning Persectives, January 1992
9Daro, D. (1993). Child maltreatment research: Implications for program design. In D. Ciccchetti & S. L. Toth (Eds.), Advances in applied development psychology: Vol. 8, Child abuse, child development, and social policy (pp 331-367)