Societal Costs of Child Abuse
Children who are raised in safe, nurturing environments are more likely to grow into responsible, contributing members of society. For every $50 spent to treat child abuse, only $1 is spent to prevent it from occurring. Studies show investing in parental support and education is less expensive and more effective than trying to treat the effects of child abuse.
Those who are subject to child abuse face emotional, cognitive, physical and behavioral development challenges at higher rates than children who aren’t abused. Specifically, children who are abused are more likely to:
- Perform poorly in school
- Develop unhealthy relationships
- Attempt suicide
- Suffer from:
- Attention deficits
- Violent aggression
- Drug usage
- Cigarette addiction
The Adverse Childhood Experiences Study (ACEs) conducted by Dr. Robert Anda and Dr. Vincent Felitti revealed these major societal costs that result from childhood trauma. Iowa is one of 19 states taking action based on the ACEs study. ACEs data is being collected this year and a steering committee is looking at how to use the data to best address childhood adversity in the state. Learn more.
The monetary costs associated with child abuse are staggering as well. An economic impact analysis study released by Prevent Child Abuse America in April 2012 estimates the cost of child abuse and neglect in the U.S. at $80 billion, or nearly $64,000 per child, this year.
These estimates include direct costs (hospitalizations, mental health treatment, child welfare system, and law enforcement) as well as indirect costs (special education, early intervention, adult homelessness, mental health and health care, juvenile and adult criminal justice, and lost work productivity).
What is clear from these studies is that child abuse affects everyone. We can significantly reduce the costs associated with treating child abuse by investing in programs that prevent child abuse from happening, but it will take everyone working together to support Iowa’s families.