Child Maltreatment Up During Unemployment

SAN FRANCISCO, Oct. 5 (UPI) — Researchers at Boston University School of Medicine say they directly linked an increased unemployment rate to child maltreatment one year later.

Dr. Robert Sege, professor of pediatrics at Boston University School of Medicine and Boston Medical Center, and colleagues reviewed state-level unemployment statistics from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and compared them with child maltreatment data from the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System from 1990 to 2008.

The study finds each 1 percent increase in unemployment was associated with at least a 0.50 per 1,000 increase in confirmed child maltreatment reports one year later. U.S. unemployment rose from 4.5 percent in 2007 to a current 9.5 percent.

Maltreated children suffer the immediate physical consequences of abuse, including physical injury and even death, but they are also at increased risk of physical and mental health effects, often lasting for decades, Sege says.

“When times are bad, children suffer,” Sege says in a statement. “These results suggest that programs to strengthen families and prevent maltreatment should be expanded during economic downturns.”

The findings were presented at the American Academy of Pediatrics National Conference and Exhibition in San Francisco.

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