Poverty a risk factor for child abuse
Pending a March 2012 publication, a recent study of current child abuse trends, released by Yale University, indicates that children receiving government sponsored healthcare (Medicaid) are at much greater risk of severe child abuse than children not receiving government aid. In fact, the Yale study suggested that Medicaid recipients who were children were 6X more likely to be victims of child abuse injuries than non-Medicaid recipients.
Also of economic note, the research suggests an increase in child abuse since the U.S. recession hit in 2009. Between 2006 and 2009, reported child abuse cases rose 56%. Yale researchers believe there is a link between the loss of jobs and housing bust and it’s relationship to child abuse.
Lead researcher John M. Leventhal, MD, said this about the economic correlation:
“Medicaid is just a marker of poverty, and poverty leads to stress. In our study, Medicaid was a proxy measure for poverty, and poverty increases the stress in people’s lives. But it’s important to note that any parent could lose it.”
According to the research, more infants die of extreme abuse in the U.S. than they do of SIDS. An estimated 4,569 infants and children under the age of 18 are victims of traumatic head injuries or physical abuse by hospital admission. Researchers caution the accuracy of such numbers given so many child abuse cases go unreported. Also excluded are cases where hospital staff note, ‘suspicious child injuries’. In 2006, 300 children died from their abuse related injuries. The most dangerous and vulnerable period for a child is infancy, according to the study, when crying is at its peak.