An estimated 905,000 children were victims of child abuse or neglect in 2006 (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2008). Even if physical injuries aren’t immediately visible, abuse and neglect has consequences for children, families and society that last for lifetimes – even generations.
Abused children suffer numerous psychological, physical and emotional issues. They are more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol, to attempt suicide, to face unemployment and to have a lower IQs. Physical consequences, like damage to a child’s growing brain, can cause cognitive delays or emotional difficulties. And studies have shown that 80% of young adults who were abused as children suffer from at least one mental health disorder.
Psychological problems often manifest as high-risk behaviors, which can lead to sexually transmitted diseases, cancer and obesity. As many as two-thirds of people in drug treatment programs were abused as children. And keep in mind that abuse and neglect statistics are still woefully underreported: Studies have estimated that as many as 50% to 60% of child deaths resulting from abuse or neglect are not recorded as such.
The result is clear: While child abuse and neglect almost always occur within the family, the impact doesn’t end there – society as a whole pays the price.
Jackson County CASA addresses these issues in two ways: We protect children’s interests in court proceedings to prevent further abuse and neglect, and we facilitate the child’s movement into a safe, permanent home.