Even though the need to mobilize resources to confront and deal with the issue of child abuse is no secret to those in government and psychiatric communities, why isn’t this discussed on a national level? If traumatized children are identified early enough, it can greatly reduce the total cost to society in dealing with subsequent problems and costs.
The National Survey of Adolescents in the U.S. estimated that nearly 4 million adolescents aged 12 to 17 experienced a serious physical assault during their short lifetime and 9 million youth witness serious violence. The total number of children estimated by studies (the vast majority are never counted) experiencing abuse, neglect, or exposure to domestic violence is estimated to exceed 3 million cases per year. And yet, there’s no public outrage.
One of the often touted prevention measures is some type of large-scale screening of children for trauma-related symptoms and behavioral problems. Although screening has become a routine part of standard medical practice such as testing for hypertension, you can imagine the outcry if parents had to consent to have their children screened for child abuse. If you were a parent, wouldn’t you want to know if your child was being abused or not? But, my parents had as well as and all other abusive parents have the final say, so with children being treated as property, gaining consent for children to be tested is usually out of the question.
The other side of the issue in identifying abused children is that professionals, who are mandated to report abuse (like teachers), can choose not to question children about possible abuse or neglect. Who pays the price in the end? The abused and neglected children.
The plain fact is (using whatever studies you want) there are large numbers of undiagnosed and untreated children who are being traumatized at home. Three things need to happen:
- Professionals in the trauma field need to sit down with policy makers and elected officials to develop an effective method of identifying abused children and providing the treatment they deserve.
- A similar program needs to be in effect to assist adult survivors who have had to flounder on their own to deal with their horrific history of abuse so that they can heal, and
- A public education program is needed to deter abuse and bring public condemnation and appropriate criminal action against abusers.
 Kilpatrick D, Saunders B. Prevalence and consequences of child victimization, Washington, D.C.: National Institute of Justice, U.S. Department of Justice, 1997.
 Osofsky J. The impact of violence on children. The Future of Children. 1999; 9:33-49
 “Mobilizing Trauma Resources for Children,” Johnson & Johnson Pediatric Institute, January 8, 2004.