Recently, the CDC published a report showing that the economic cost of child abuse and neglect places it at or near the top of major public health problems in the U.S. The scope of the problem is mind boggling. In 2008, state and local child protective services received more than 3 million complaints. That’s an average of six complaints every minute of every day.
The CDC also studied the lifetime economic cost of each confirmed case. In a somewhat macabre financial cost analysis, precise to the dollar, the CDC calculated that the average cost is $210,012. That is comparable to major health problems such as stroke ($159,846) and type 2 diabetes (over $200,00).
Combining the cost per incident with the number of confirmed cases, the CDC put the annual bill at $124 billion.
I guess that in a capitalistic society like ours, establishing the financial cost is an important strategy for raising awareness of an appalling situation that mostly stays in the shadows. Yet the fact that over 770,00 children are abused and maltreated each year should be shouted from every pulpit and street corner in the land.
A large number of good programs for both prevention and response do exist. This is a problem that we know how to deal with. What we need is to make a greater commitment to fund these programs and increase their effectiveness.
Those good souls who work in this area are understandably frustrated. Face it, it stinks. A huge number of our children are being hurt and victimized under our noses. If one of the ways to get people on their feet is to wave a cost statement in front of them, then so be it. Whatever it takes.
The full article and report can be read on the CDC website at: