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The Cost of Child Abuse

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The Cost of Child Abuse

April is Child Abuse Prevention Month. The Children’s Bureau of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Administration for Children and Families released the 26th edition of the 2015 Child Maltreatment Report in January 2017. As a parent, mental health professional, and human being, child abuse and the lasting effects break my heart!

The Statistics are Alarming

In 2015…

  • Child abuse reports involved 7.2 million children.
  • Annual estimate: 1,670 to 1740 children died from abuse and neglect, that is about five children daily.
  • 83.9% were the subject of only one report, 12.5% were the subject of two reports, and 3.6% were the subject of three or more reports.
  • 75.3% of victims are neglected.
  • 17.2% of victims are physically abused.
  • 8.4% of victims are sexually abused.
  • 6.9% of victims are psychologically maltreated.
  • Child abuse crosses all socioeconomic and educational levels, religions, ethnic and cultural groups.
  • 3.4 million children received prevention and post-response services.

Mental health services can change the trajectory of a child’s life, especially those who have experienced child abuse and/or neglect.

Every day at Western Youth Services (WYS) we provide a comprehensive, collaborative approach to mental health treatment and prevention.

Staggering Physical, Emotional, and Financial Costs

We all pay a price for child abuse, and it is much more than financial…

Child abuse leaves its mark and causes childhood trauma or Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), that interfere with neurodevelopment resulting in long-term mental health disorders, decreases in healthy behaviors, and increases in morbidity and premature mortality.

  • ACEs can impact physical and mental health and well-being of a person across a lifetime.
  • ACEs pose a threat to proper brain development.
  • More than half of the adults in California have at least one ACE.
  • Individuals with four or more ACEs are seven times more likely to have mental health problems and eleven times more likely to attempt suicide than individuals with zero ACEs.
  • Without intervention, the estimated weighted annual community cost per child is $18,856.

WYS addresses ACEs with nearly every research-recommended strategy we provide. We prevent and decrease the prevalence of ACEs and yield significant social improvements in the lives of our clients. We are positively effecting our generation and transforming relationships for future generations.

Learn more about ACEs in our special report: Healthy and Hopeful: Healing Trauma – How the WYS Collaborative Model of Mental Health Services Builds Resilience and Alters the Impact of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs)

Professionals Step-in

A large number (63.4%) of the reports of alleged child abuse and neglect in the 2015 Child Maltreatment Report have been submitted by professionals that are present in the lives of children. This includes teachers (18.4%), police officers/lawyers (18.2%), and social services staff (10.9%). Friends, neighbors, and relatives submitted one-fifth of reports (18.2%).

From experience, we can expand this list to include mental health professionals, camp counselors, after school programs, preschools, religious organizations, and compassionate strangers that see something they wish they did not.

Changing the Trajectory

Every child deserves a chance to be healthy and hopeful and having multiple ACEs threaten this outcome. The prevalence of Adverse Childhood Experiences is a public health crisis in communities across America.

The proven WYS collaborative and integrated mental health services model is changing the trajectory for children with ACEs. Our research-driven strategies address the scars of abuse, adverse childhood experiences, and toxic stress. We are improving the health, behavioral and learning outcomes of children today.

Visit our website to learn more about our work in the Orange County, California community since 1972.

Lorry Leigh Belhumeur, Ph.D.
Chief Executive Officer
Western Youth Services

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