A Cost too Great to Ignore

Child Abuse and Neglect in Virginia

  • 6,592 Number of founded [proven] cases of child abuse and/or neglect in Virginia
  • 48  Number of children who died as a result of their abuse and/or neglect
  • 33,809 Number of families in unproven cases of abuse referred to intervention services such as SCAN’s
  • 56 Percentage of maltreated children who experienced physical neglect including failure to provide food, clothing, shelter or supervision to the extent the child’s health was endangered
  • 26 Percentage of maltreated children who were victims of physical abuse
  • 11 Percentage of maltreated children who were victims of sexual abuse

*Reported by Virginia Department of Social Services for fiscal year 2014-2015

Children who are abused and/or neglected often have social, cognitive, and economic difficulties in adulthood. Studies have shown that they are more likely to have low rates of academic achievement, poor coping and decision-making skills while they also fail to develop adequate and positive social support networks. In addition to suffering from the immediate physical injuries, victims of child abuse and neglect are more likely to develop behaviors that lead to obesity, diabetes, depression, post traumatic stress disorder, and other chronic diseases.

Studies have shown that children who are abused or witness abuse are also at a higher risk of becoming violent themselves, particularly toward their own children and/or spouses. According to a National Institute of Justice study, abused and neglected children are 11 times more likely to be arrested for criminal behavior as a juvenile, 2.7 times more likely to be arrested for violent and criminal behavior as an adult, and 3.1 times more likely to be arrested for a  violent crime as juveniles or adults. Additionally, approximately 30% of abused and neglected children will eventually victimize their own children, according to a study by Prevent Child Abuse New York.

The impact of child abuse and neglect is often discussed in terms of physical, psychological, behavioral, and societal consequences. In reality, according to Child Welfare information Gateway, it is impossible to separate them completely. “Physical consequences, such as damage to a child’s growing brain, can have psychological implications such as cognitive delays or emotional difficulties. Psychological problems often manifest as high-risk behaviors. Depression and anxiety, for example, may make a person more likely to smoke, abuse alcohol or illicit drugs, or overeat. High-risk behaviors, in turn, can lead to long-term physical health problems such as sexually transmitted diseases, cancer, and obesity.”

In order to succeed in life and be healthy, active members of the metropolitan community, the next generation of adults in the Greater Richmond area must grow up in safe and nurturing homes. The best way to positively impact abused/neglected children is to improve their parents’ functioning and their home environment.

$33.3 billion is the estimated amount spent on the direct costs of child abuse each year, such as:

  • Judicial System
  • Law Enforcement
  • Mental Health Treatment

$46.9 billion is the estimated amount spent on the indirect costs of child abuse each year, such as:

  • Juvenile Delinquency
  • Special Education
  • Adult Criminality
  • Lost Productivity to Society
 

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