According to ChildHelp.org, between four and seven children in the U.S. die every day because of child abuse and neglect, which makes for one of the worst rankings among industrialized nations. For children who do survive the abuse, the implications it can have on their future is unsettling.
Key statistics include:
- Individuals who experience childhood maltreatment have increased risk of mental health disorders, including depression and suicide attempts. In one study, 80% of 21-year-olds who reported childhood abuse met the criteria for at least one psychological disorder.
- As many as two-thirds of people in treatment for drug abuse reported being abused or neglected as children.
- Children who experience child abuse and neglect are about 9 times more likely to become involved in criminal activity. In fact, 14% of all men in prison and 36% of women in prison in the U.S. were abused as children, about twice the frequency than in the general population.
- Individuals who reported six or more adverse childhood experiences – which include household dysfunctions along with abuse and neglect – had an average life expectancy two decades shorter than those who reported none.
For more details on child abuse and neglect’s long-terms effects, click here. To help prevent some of these effects, the federal government first got involved in the issue in 1974 with the passing of the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA). Congress took their involvement a step further by planning the first Child Abuse Prevention Week in 1982, and shortly after, April was designated as National Child Abuse Prevention Month. In the years since, the emphasis on recognition and prevention of child abuse has spread to include a focus on healthy parenting and strong families through education and community support.
How can you and your schools spread awareness about child abuse and prevention? We compiled a few suggestions and resources:
- Mentor a child or parent.
- Support the Pinwheels for Prevention® campaign. PreventChildAbuse.org encourages individuals to honor those people who helped them have a positive childhood by buying a pinwheel in their honor. The organization says it’s a “physical embodiment, or reminder, of the great childhoods we want for all children.”
- Create pinwheel projects and displays with your classes using this create your own pinwheel worksheet from PreventChildAbuse.org.
- Understand the signs of abuse.
- Share support hotlines with teachers and students via posters, school website and social media accounts, assemblies and more.
- The Texas Council of Child Welfare Boards encourages individuals across Texas to wear blue on Friday, April 6th to show their support for children.