BBC reports that child abuse in the United States is worse than in any First World country– over 20,000 in the past ten years which is four times the amount of solider deaths in Afghanistan and Iraq. That’s one child every five hours dying at the abusive hand of a caregiver.
The report states several factors. First, social problems such as social teen pregnancy, high-school dropout, violent crime, imprisonment, and poverty – factors associated with abuse and neglect – are generally much higher in the US. Second, policies that address these problems are much lower in the U.S. than in other developed countries.Why is that? Social programs tend to be the first ones on the chopping block when the economy is struggle. Also, many fiscal conservatives tend to favor less government involvement in the people’s lives, which means less protection for the disenfranchised, i.e. children.
Author Michael Petit of the organization Every Child Matters, makes a comparison between Vermont and Texas, a state with high taxes and social program, and a state with the opposite, respectively. Texas children are four times as likely to be uninsured and incarcerated, and twice as likely to suffer abuse and/or neglect. “The sharp differences between the states raises the question of an expanded federal role,” Petit writes. Prevent Child Abuse Texas states that in 2010, there were 288,075 alleged victims of child abuse and only 1,863 caseworkers responsible for investigation.
Numbers show that the money invested in abuse prevention results in almost three times its return. As of right now, for every dollar spent on treating child abuse, only thirteen cents is spent on preventing it.