Child Abuse Costs in Emotion and Dollars

Child maltreatment exacts a high cost for children and the public health care system

February 6, 2012 / Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

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(dailyRx News) There's no question about the psychological, and sometimes, physical scars from child abuse. Suffering abuse or neglect during childhood leaves trauma issues that can often be lifelong concerns.

But it's not always talked about in the terms of a public health problem. 

Children who have suffered abuse or neglect are at greater risk for delinquency, aggression, conduct disorder, substance abuse, teen pregnancy, partner violence, anxiety, depression and suicide.

Such abuse has multiple negative effects including social and emotional difficulties, behavioral issues, poorer physical health and decreased economic productivity.

These impact a child abuse survivor over the course of his or her lifetime, and generate high costs. The health care costs during childhood alone are estimated at over $32,600, and more than $10,000 into adulthood.

"Report suspected child abuse to a therapist or doctor."

The CDC study looked at the confirmed child maltreatment cases in the U.S. during a 12-month period, including 1,740 fatal and 579,000 non-fatal. The lifetime cost for each of these victims was just over $210,000 - a sum that is comparable to other costly health conditions such as stroke or diabetes.

“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, Dr.P.H., M.S.N., director of CDC′s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control.

Dr. Degutis added that public health agencies and policymakers should advance awareness of the lifetime economic impact of child maltreatment, and give it the priority of immediate action that other high profile public health problems receive.

The report was published in a recent issue of Child Abuse and Neglect, The International Journal.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
February 5, 2012
Last Updated:
February 6, 2012