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Child abuse rises with income inequality

The rich beat their kids less

According to the results of a new study to be published in next month’s Pediatrics journal, there is a definite relationship between income and various forms of child abuse ranging from emotional and physical abuse to and including brain injuries and death.  John J. Eckenrode, Cornell University professor of human development and director of the Family Life Development Center in the College of Human Ecology and lead author reported that they arrived at their conclusion through a study of activities in the 3,142 U.S.counties from 2005 through 2009.

child abuse

Child abuse rises as income dips.

While some may not find the results surprising Eckenrode states: “”Our study is the first to demonstrate that increases in income inequality are associated with increases in child maltreatment.”  Statistically, almost 3 million children under the age of 18 are in some way abused annually.  That is approximately 4 percent of all American children.

Eckenrode states: “Certainly, poor counties with general, overall poverty have significant problems with child abuse. 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.”

He adds: “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.”  He also points out that child abuse has long-term effects.

The research also notes that “(c)hild 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.  This is in addition to long-term effects on mental health, substance use, risky (intimate) behavior and criminal behavior” as well as potentially “increased rates of unemployment, poverty and Medicaid use in adulthood.”

(Image courtesy of WalesOnline)

About Will Phoenix

W. Scott Phoenix, B.A., B.S. was born in Hawaii, raised in Pennsylvania and resides in California. He has been a published writer since 1978. His work has appeared (under various names) in numerous places in print and online including Examiner.com. He is a single parent of three children and has also worked as an actor, singer and teacher. He has been employed by such publications as the Daily Collegian and the Los Angeles Times.