Other Voices: Child abuse affects everyone
Admittedly, child abuse is not an easy topic. Most people prefer to distance themselves from the subject. However, one of the duties of the Child Abuse Prevention Council of Western Nevada County (CAPC) is to bring this subject to the attention of our community.
This month, we want to take the time to give you some good news about what can be done to support families and protect our children, as well as the bad news about the estimated costs of child abuse. Also, there are some news events on NCTV during the month we want to share with you.
First the bad news, in a study sponsored by the PEW Charitable trust and conducted by Prevent Child Abuse America, our nation spends $103.8 billion on child abuse and neglect. This breaks down to $33 billion for the direct costs of hospitalization, mental health services for children and their families, operating the child welfare system, and costs for law enforcement related to reported child abuse.
Another $70.6 billion of indirect costs include: Special education expenses, juvenile justice system costs, mental health care, adult criminal justice system costs, and an estimated lost of productivity. This is a staggering number.
Another study, called the Adverse Childhood Effects Study or ACE Study, conducted by Kaiser Permanente in San Diego and the Center for Disease Control, discovered that many adult chronic health conditions are linked to early trauma experienced in childhood.
This well-respected study of over 17,000 people found a relationship between childhood abuse, neglect, and other traumas and adult obesity, substance abuse, chronic pain, and other chronic health conditions. These findings dispel the myth that children are resilient and get over it. In fact, childhood traumas impact adult health decades later. You can visit their Web site at http://www.acestudy.org.
So, what of the good news? The Administration on Children, Youth, and Families reports that research points to five factors that protect families and children. These factors are:
– The development of a nurturing bond and early attachment between infant and caregiver ” this is essential to healthy development of the child and the groundwork for all that follows.
– Knowledge of parenting and child development ” this makes for realistic expectations of children, facilitates appropriate discipline, and makes it possible to recognize and apologize when a parent blows it.
– The resiliency of the parents ” parents who are resilient tend to keep their cool in all types of challenges and circumstances.
– Social connections ” are important for the health and wellbeing of families. Support, generational wisdom, and getting respite all are made possible by one’s social connections.
– Last, concrete support for parents ” this basically translates to good jobs, adequate housing, and access to food and schools. Having one’s basic needs met makes parenting easier.
But, of course we all know that child abuse knows no social or economic boundaries. Economic stress can increase stressors that might trigger abuse, but abuse exists in homes where all the basic needs are met.
What are the implications of these protective factors on developing prevention strategies? Solutions to prevent child maltreatment must make a nurturing connection with families as well as nurture and support the connection between parents and children.
No longer is social services about fixing individual families or individuals. It is about fostering caring social connections.
Join CAPC this April in discussions about child abuse and the local media programming designed to support families. NCTV is hosting several events for Child Abuse Prevention Month and Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Awareness.
On April 22 at 6 p.m. there will be a call-in program featuring four DVSAC workers in the areas of abuse and recovery. Documentaries on the ACE study will be shown later in the month.
For more information regarding abuse prevention contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lenda Welz is chair of the Child Abuse Prevention Council of Western Nevada County.
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