Child Abuse Rises with Income Inequality

Pic: Neon Zero (CC)

Pic: Neon Zero (CC)

Via ScienceDaily:

As the Great Recession deepened and income inequality became more pronounced, county-by-county rates of child maltreatment — from sexual, physical and emotional abuse to traumatic brain injuries and death — worsened, according to a nationwide study by Cornell University.

The income inequality-child maltreatment study, to be published in the March 2014 edition of the peer-review journal Pediatrics, covers all 3,142 American counties from 2005-09, and is one of the most comprehensive of its kind and the first to target child abuse in places with the greatest gap between rich and poor.

“Our study is the first to demonstrate that increases in income inequality are associated with increases in child maltreatment,” said John J. Eckenrode, professor of human development and director of the Family Life Development Center in the College of Human Ecology. “More equal societies, states and communities have fewer health and social problems than less equal ones — that much was known. Our study extends the list of unfavorable child outcomes associated with income inequality to include child abuse and neglect.”

Nearly 3 million children younger than 18 are physically abused, sexually abused, physically neglected or emotionally abused each year in the United States, the Cornell researchers noted. That is about 4 percent of the youth population — and those are just the officially documented cases.

“Certainly, poor counties with general, overall poverty have significant problems with child abuse,” Eckenrode said. “We were more interested in geographic areas with wide variations in income — think of counties encompassing affluent suburbs and impoverished inner cities, or think of rich/poor Brooklyn, New York — that’s where income inequalities are most pronounced. That’s where the kids are really hurting.” The hurt doesn’t stop when kids graduate — if they do — from school, the Cornell researchers observed.

“Child maltreatment is a toxic stressor in the lives of children that may result in childhood mortality and morbidities and have lifelong effects on leading causes of death in adults,” they wrote. “This is in addition to long-term effects on mental health, substance use, risky sexual behavior and criminal behavior … increased rates of unemployment, poverty and Medicaid use in adulthood.”

7 Comments on "Child Abuse Rises with Income Inequality"

  1. Anarchy Pony | Feb 15, 2014 at 9:34 pm |

    Likely a result of the frustration/aggression problem.

  2. BuzzCoastin | Feb 15, 2014 at 9:35 pm |

    income inequality
    is that Newspeak for poor?
    because the poverty paradigm produces stress in the impoverished
    the delta between high & low is meaningless to the poor

  3. dupreesparadise | Feb 15, 2014 at 9:52 pm |

    This sounds just like my own, recent armchair theory about increasing income inequality: as the wealth gradually concentrates at the top and quality of life for everyone else worsens, the masses at the bottom are reduced more and more to “animals,” resulting in more crime, violence, abuse, divorce, and general strife. To put it more simply, if you are noticing that people you thought were your friends are screwing you over, and everyone seems to be in a bad mood, don’t blame the people around you: Blame the people who are causing the conditions that lead to desperate conditions.

  4. BuzzCoastin | Feb 15, 2014 at 9:56 pm |

    wanna stop income iniquity
    stop buying into the consumer paradigm
    the more you work to consume
    the more it consumes you and
    feeds them lavishly

    cut it to the minimum
    and you have them by the balls

  5. And being spoiled as a child correlates to becoming a psychopath.

  6. What I take away from this is the old idea that everyone in a laissez faire economy has the same ability to “pull themselves up by their own bootstraps” and become successful so we don’t need a social safety net is clearly bunk.

  7. terrasodium | Feb 16, 2014 at 3:32 pm |

    This is all far to depressing, i’m going to open a can of diet soda and a bag of cheesy puffs and watch some reruns of the big bang theory and learn how we can think our way out of this.

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