You may see blue ribbons, blue pinwheels, street banners and signs in your local community to remind you that child abuse and neglect continues to be a community health issue. For the third year in a row the United States had a rise in the number of children who experienced child abuse and neglect according to a report published by the Administration on Children, Youth, and Families on January 23, 2017.
In 2015, both the number of estimated child fatalities because of abuse or neglect (1, 670) and the national fatality rate (2.25 percent) were both the highest in at least five years. Educators made the most referrals to child protective services at 18.4 percent, followed by legal and law enforcement personnel (18.2 percent), social services personnel (10.9 percent), medical professionals (9.1 percent), mental health professionals (5.8 percent) and others.
Children ages 0-5 are most at risk of child abuse and neglect. In 2015, 74.8 percent of all child fatalities in the United States were children under the age of 3. This age group is most vulnerable because they are unable to escape the abuse and neglect, talk about it to others, or be seen at school where most reports are made by educators. Children ages 0-5 who are abused and/or neglected feel hurt, sad, hungry, scared and alone and without help face dire consequences for their future.
According to an article entitled, “How Much Does Child Abuse Cost? Study Says $400K Over a Lifetime” written by Jeremy Loudenbeck for the Chronical of Social Change in January 2017, each case of abuse carries a very hefty price tag. Researchers looked at child welfare services, health care, special education services, criminal justice and lifetime productivity. A substantiated case of child abuse incurs nearly $11,000 in costs from child welfare services, nearly $13,000 in special education services, nearly $55, 000 in health care services. Lifetime health consequences for children who suffer from child maltreatment include substance abuse and mental health issues, among many others. See Childhood Adverse Effects Study for more information on serious health consequences for children who suffer from maltreatment at an early age. Victims of child abuse are 28 percent more likely than other children to have an adult criminal record.
El Dorado County is not exempt from child abuse and/or neglect statistics. According to Kids Data.org (a program of the Lucille Packard Foundation for Children’s Health), in 2015, El Dorado County reports to Child Protective Services for general neglect and emotional abuse were higher than the state reporting percentages. Sexual abuse reports were equal to the state reporting percentage. Children ages 0-5 had the highest percentage of reports to Child Protective Services.
We, collectively, as a loving, thriving community can prevent the devastating effects of child maltreatment. Each one of us can support families and their young children by knowing the support services in our communities that assist families that are struggling, promoting the importance of early childhood development, and individually advocating for strong, healthy families through volunteering, supporting, and caring for the children and families of our communities.
Please get involved and remember: Each of us, whether we have anything to do with children or not, is directly affected by how they are treated.
To learn more about the El Dorado County Child Abuse Prevention Council, please call Elizabeth Blakemore, Coordinator at 530-295-2312