A Large and Growing Problem
Child abuse is a large and growing problem in Kalamazoo County today. Every day, on average, 13 new cases of child abuse and neglect are reported in Kalamazoo County. One-fourth of those new cases demand immediate intervention. That translates into 1,140 confirmed and serious cases each year, throughout our local area. Unfortunately, many more cases are never reported. (Note: Sources for all information are cited at the bottom of this page.)
Who is affected?
Boys and girls, teens and toddlers – even babies. All races and ethnic groups, from the inner city to affluent suburbs. Simply put, every child is vulnerable to abuse. The good news is that we can reduce the danger by working together. (Visit our Resources section to learn more.)
In the United States, child sexual abuse is reported almost 90,000 times a year. But the number of unreported abuse cases is far greater because many children are afraid to tell anyone what has happened, and the legal procedure for validating a case of abuse is sometimes difficult.
About 67% percent of all victims of sexual assault reported to law enforcement agencies were juveniles (under the age of 18). About 34% of all victims were under age 12. One of every seven victims of sexual assault reported to law enforcement agencies was under 6. Nearly 40% of the offenders who victimized children under age 6 were under the age of 18.
Most children are abused by someone they know and trust, although boys are more likely than girls to be abused outside of the family. A study in three states found 96% of reported rape survivors under age 12 knew the attacker. About 4% of the offenders were strangers, 20% were fathers, 16% were relatives and 50% were acquaintances or friends.
How Many Children Die from Child Abuse and Neglect in the U.S. Every Year?
Almost five children die every day as a result of child abuse. More than three out of four are under the age of 4. It is estimated that between 60-85% of child fatalities due to maltreatment are not recorded as such on death certificates.
What is the Damage?
Child abuse leaves more than just bruises. Long after children have recovered from the physical results of a beating, abused children suffer from emotional and psychological trauma that can last the rest of their lives.
Adults who experienced child abuse in their youth are more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol, commit violent crimes, form unhealthy relationships, and even abuse their own children.
What is the Link Between Child Abuse and Future Criminal Behavior?
Fourteen percent of all men in prison in the USA were abused as children.
Thirty-six percent of all women in prison were abused as children.
Children who experience child abuse and neglect are 59% more likely to be arrested as a juvenile, 28% more likely to be arrested as an adult, and 30% more likely to commit violent crime.
Why Do Some People Abuse Children?
It is difficult to imagine that any person would intentionally inflict harm on a child. Many times, physical abuse is a result of excessive discipline or physical punishment that is inappropriate for the child's age. The parent may simply be unaware of the magnitude of force with which he or she strikes a child. Most parents want to be good parents but sometimes lose control and are unable to cope.
Factors which contribute to child abuse include the immaturity of parents, lack of parenting skills, unrealistic expectations about children's behavior and capabilities, a parent's own negative childhood experience, social isolation, frequent family crises and drug or alcohol problems. Child abuse is a symptom that parents are having difficulty coping with their situation.
Ninety percent of child sexual abuse victims know the perpetrator in some way; 68% are abused by family members. Child abuse occurs at every socio-economic level, across ethnic and cultural lines, within all religions and at all levels of education.
Is Alcohol or Drug Abuse Linked to Child Maltreatment?
A 1999 study by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse found that children of substance-abusing parents were almost three times likelier to be abused and more than four times likelier to be neglected than children of parents who are not substance abusers.
Other studies suggest than an estimated 50% to 80% of all child abuse cases substantiated by Child Protective Service involve some degree of substance abuse by the child's parents.
Children who have been sexually abused are 2.5 times more likely to develop alcohol abuse. Children who have been sexually abused are 3.8 times more likely to develop drug addictions. Nearly two-thirds of the people in treatment for drug abuse reported being abused as children.
What Are the Most Common Forms of Child Maltreatment?
Neglect is the most common form of child maltreatment. Child Protective Service (CPS) investigations determined that 54% of victims in 1997 suffered neglect; 24%, physical abuse; 13%, sexual abuse; 6% emotional maltreatment, and 2%, medical neglect. Many children suffer more than one type of maltreatment.
What is the Annual Cost of Child Abuse and Neglect in the U.S.?
The estimated annual cost resulting from child abuse and neglect in the United States for 2012 is $80 billion. During the current economic crisis, that figure is expected to be substantially higher as many families struggle with the stress of unemployment and financial challenges.
What is the Difference Between "Substantiated" and "Indicated" Child Abuse or Neglect?
The term "substantiated" means that an allegation of maltreatment was confirmed according to the level of evidence required by the State law or State policy.
The term "indicated" is an investigation finding used by some States when there is insufficient evidence to substantiate a case under State law or policy, but there is reason to suspect that maltreatment occurred or that there is risk of future maltreatment.
How Can I Learn More?
We encourage you to explore this website, particularly the Resources section, to learn more about child abuse and neglect. You may also want to read our free brochure: "How to Prevent Child Abuse & Neglect," which is available for download on this website. For printed copies, call the Kalamazoo CAN office at (269) 552-4430.
What Can I Do to Reduce Child Abuse and Neglect in Our Local Community?
First, educate yourself. (Click here for our Resources section.) Next, speak to your friends, family members and co-workers about this important topic. Then get involved. Becoming a member of Kalamazoo CAN is one of the best ways to get involved. To find out more, please click here now. You may also call our office at (269) 552-4430 or send your e-mail inquiry to info@KalamazooCAN.com.
- Centers of Disease Control and Prevention and The Federal Administration for Children and Families.
- Prevent Child Abuse America: Current Trends in Child Abuse Reporting & Fatalities: The 2000 Fifty State Survey.
- National Center on Child Abuse Prevention Research: Prevent Child Abuse America; Current Trends in Child Abuse Reporting and Fatalities: The Results of the Annual Fifty State Survey.
- The Annie E. Casey Foundation, Kids Count Data Center, 2009.
- American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 2004.
- Lung, C. & Daro D. (1996) Current Trends in Child Abuse Reporting and Fatalities: The Results of the 1995 Annual Fifty State Survey. Chicago: National Committee to Prevent Child Abuse.
- US Department of Health & Human Services Administration for Children & Families. Child Maltreatment 2003: Summary of Key Findings.
- Advocates for Youth, Study on Child Abuse and Neglect, 1995-2004.
- National Clearinghouse on Child Abuse & Neglect Information. Longterm Consequences of Child Abuse & Neglect 2005.
Gelles, Richard J., & Perlman, Staci (2012) Estimated Annual Cost of Child Abuse and Neglect. Chicago IL: Prevent Child Abuse America
- US Department of Justice, Annual Report on Child Abuse and Neglect.
- Child Abuse & Neglect Study by Arthur BeckerWeidman PhD.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse 2000 Report.
- DePanfilis, D. (2006). Child neglect: A guide for prevention, assessment and intervention. Dept.HHS, et al., LongTerm Consequences of Child Abuse and Neglect. Child Welfare Information.
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Child Welfare Fact Sheets.
- Wang, ChungTung Ph.D. & Holton, John Ph.D. (2007). Total Estimated Cost of Child Abuse and Neglect In the United States. Prevent Child Abuse America funded byThe Pew Charitable Trusts.
- U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Administration on Children Youth & Families. Child Maltreatment 2007.