The Cost of Child Abuse: Study Attempts to Quantify Damages

Cost of Child Abuse

Child abuse is something that people have trouble contemplating.  That’s because it’s an act that is so damaging to the victim that it’s impossible to fully understand for most people unless they have been through it themselves.  What we do know is that all forms of child abuse can and often do lead to long-term consequences.  We know that a lot of child abuse victims never report these incidents to authorities or to adults in general.  We do not know what the actual cost of child abuse can be for a survivor in terms of the additional financial burdens a survivor can face.  However, certain information is starting to emerge.  A recent study attempts to quantify the cost of child abuse.  The children’s rights lawyers at Gomez Trial Attorneys would like for as many people as possible to know as much about child abuse as possible.

About the Cost of Child Abuse Study

A team of professionals from the San Francisco Child Abuse Prevention Center collaborated with the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley to complete the study.  Those interested in reading it in its entirety can find it here.  The study focused on the issue of child abuse in the San Francisco area.  The researchers started their analysis with the 753 cases of substantiated child abuse in the city in 2015.  From there, the researchers took the following steps:

  • They calculated the present value of the specific economic burdens resulting from each broad category of adverse outcomes for each case of child maltreatment.
  • These specific economic burdens include:
    • Lifetime productivity
    • Education
    • Child welfare
    • Criminal justice
    • Healthcare
  • The researchers then calculated the lifetime impact per victim based on the sum of these additional economic burdens.
  • The final step was calculating the final economic burden by multiplying the cost per victim by the number of substantiated cases from 2015.

Each of these specific economic burdens is explained below:

  • Lifetime productivity – Child abuse survivors are more likely to be unemployed and face barriers to employment, thereby lowering their earning potential.
  • Education – Abused children are 77 percent more likely to require special education than those who are not.
  • Child welfare – Survivors may require different interventions that include child welfare, counseling and other forms of help.
  • Criminal justice – Child abuse survivors are more likely to have both juvenile records and adult criminal records than those who are not abused.

The Cost of Child Abuse – The Results

The researchers concluded that every child abuse survivor faces an average of $400,533 in costs throughout the rest of his or her life.

The cost of child abuse breaks down as follows:

  1. Lifetime productivity – $314,417
  2. Healthcare – $54,553
  3. Education – $12,891
  4. Child welfare – $11,035
  5. Criminal justice – $7,637

In addition, and based solely on the substantiated cases of child abuse in San Francisco, the annual average cost of child abuse city-wide is $301,600,000.

Child Abuse Statistics and Per-Person Cost Analysis

While the numbers above are based on the San Francisco economy in terms of cost and could be somewhat different in other locations, the implications are clear in that the cost of child abuse is exorbitant even in a quantifiable sense.  According to the National Children’s Alliance, the following statistics relate to child abuse in the United States:

  • More than 1,600 children died from abuse in 2015 alone.
  • Children’s Advocacy Centers served more than 310,000 children in 2015.
  • Nearly 700,000 children are abused across the country every year.
  • Children in the first year of life had the highest rate of victimization.
  • Neglect is the most common form of mistreatment.

If the cost of child abuse is approximately $400,000 per child, that means that the cost of child abuse in the United States overall is approximately $280 billion every year.  That means that the cost of child abuse is $875 per year for every single person in the United States.  This doesn’t even directly take into account the emotional harm that people who were abused as children endure.

If these costs are broken down to California’s level, the numbers are also extremely daunting.  We reviewed some statistics recently regarding California child abuse.  At its lowest point in recent years, approximately 39,000 children were abused in some manner.  Given the estimated 38 million residents of California, this means that everyone who resides in the state – regardless of age – would face a loss of more than $410 per year if everyone faced these costs equally.

How to Stop Child Abuse

The first thing that adults need to do is commit to putting a stop to child abuse if they suspect that it is occurring.  This can be difficult given that a large number of child abuse cases involve a parent as the abuser.  Regardless, people need to do what they can to protect children who are being mistreated.  There are warning signs for different types of child abuse, but in general some of these warning signs can include:

  • Unexplained physical injuries
  • An extreme fear of making mistakes
  • Fear of going home
  • Social withdrawal

There are others, but the bottom line is that if you suspect that a child is being abused, you need to take the next step and find out if your suspicions are accurate.  Simply dismissing such instincts could lead to terrible results.  You should talk to school officials, other authority figures or even law enforcement if necessary.

How Children’s Rights Lawyers Can Help

If you suspect that this is happening and you’re unsure of where to look for help, you can always turn to children’s rights lawyers for guidance.  Children’s rights attorneys can work with you to evaluate a situation and provide you with legal advice that will help you put such a situation into context.  If you need this form of help, seek the help of children’s rights lawyers who dedicate their professional lives to protecting the rights, safety and dignity of young people.  Contact Gomez Trial Attorneys today for a free case evaluation.

Posted in: Children's Rights
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