A statistic advertised in our local paper really stuck in my head and got me thinking. The statistic referenced child abuse in my home state of Louisiana and read; “Over 5,280 children were abused in Louisiana last year.” Wow! That one line got my attention and kind of woke me up this morning. I spent a good part of the day researching child abuse on a national level. Below are some very real, very scary and very sad facts and trends regarding child abuse in the United States.
National Child Abuse Statistics
Nearly a million children are child abuse or neglect victims every year. The rate of victimization is 12.3 children per 1,000 children. To put this in perspective, the number one cause of cancer in men is prostate cancer with a rate of 142 cases per 100,000 males. Similarly, in women the number one cancer is breast cancer with a rate of 118 cases per 100,000 female. According to the CDC, children ages 0-3 are most likely to experience abuse. About 1 in 50 U.S. infants are victims of non-fatal child abuse or neglect every year. Child abuse takes the lives of over 4 children per day and nearly 80% are younger than four years old.
The consequences of child abuse are very real and lasting. A population of young adults who were known child abuse victims were studied and 80% of them met the criteria for at least one psychiatric disorder at the age of 21. Some of the conditions include depression, anxiety, eating disorders, and stress disorders, to name a few.
Teen pregnancy is 25% more likely in child abuse victims than children who did not experience abuse. Children are also also more likely to become criminals. In fact, they are 59% more likely to by arrested as a juvenile and 28% more likely to be arrested as an adult and 30% more likely to commit violent crimes.
Of the male prison population in the U.S. it is estimated that nearly 15% were victims of child abuse or neglect and almoste 37% of female prisoners were abused as children. Nearly 2/3’s of the people in treatment for drug abuse reported being abused as children
Child abuse creates a violent cycle of recurring abuse in the United States. Over 33% of child abuse victims will abuse their children.Cycle of Abuse in USA. The rate of child abuse is estimated to be 3 times greater than is reported. I hope you can see how this cycle can destroy generations!
Below are some physical and behavioral signs of child abuse and neglect. Those indicated in bold lettering tend to be the most common signs and symptoms.
Physical Signs of Child Abuse
1. Unexplained burns, cuts, bruises, or welts in the shape of an object
2. Bite marks
3. Anti-social behavior
4. Problems in school
5. Fear of adults
Emotional Signs of Child Abuse
3. Hostility or stress
4. Lack of concentration
5. Eating disorders
Sexual Signs of Child Abuse
1. Inappropriate interest or knowledge of sexual acts
2. Nightmares and bed wetting
3. Drastic changes in appetite
4. Over compliance or excessive aggression
5. Fear of a particular person or family member
Signs of Neglect
1. Unsuitable clothing for weather
2. Dirty or unbathed
3. Extreme hunger
4. Apparent lack of supervision
Together we can make a difference. It starts by adopting a zero tolerance approach to child abuse. It is simply unacceptable. Educate yourself, friends, and family about child abuse and the signs. If you suspect that a child is the victim of abuse please contact the National Child Abuse Hotline, 1-800-4-A-CHILD (1-800-422-4453). A great resource is http://www.childhelp.org/
1. Centers of Disease Control and Prevention and The Federal Administration for Children and Families.
The CDC publication: http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr