New Study Outlines the Cost of Child Abuse and Neglect

A recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) study, The Economic Burden of Child Maltreatment in the United States and Implications for Prevention, outlines the costs associated with confirmed cases of child maltreatment (CM) including, physical abuse, sexual abuse, psychological abuse and neglect. In particular, the study focuses on the following major types of costs that are associated with CM: health care costs (short- and long-term, including physical and mental health), productivity losses, child welfare costs, criminal justice costs, and special education costs.  Looking at the confirmed cases of fatal and non-fatal CM from fiscal year 2008, the study estimates that the approximately 579,000 substantiated cases of nonfatal CM and 1,740 cases of fatal CM that year result in a total economic burden of $124 billion. When broken down, the findings show that each death due to child maltreatment had a lifetime cost of about $1.3 million, while the lifetime cost for each victim of child maltreatment who lived was $210,012.

The study highlights some evidence-based strategies for addressing CM, including a promising array of prevention and intervention programs with great potential to reduce the economic burden of maltreatment. Although longitudinal research on the economic burden of fatal and non-fatal CM is still very limited, the study suggests that in economic terms the burden is so substantial that the benefits of prevention will likely outweigh the costs for effective programs.

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