Mistreatment in childhood can have lasting effects on victims, effects that can last into adulthood. Studies have shown negative impacts on physical and mental health, as well as the capacity to learn and form healthy relationships. The effects of child abuse and neglect on the individual are far-reaching and they affect millions each year.
Each year, approximately six million children are referred to child-protection agencies for investigation into cases of suspected child abuse and neglect. Factoring in the cases that go unreported, the number of children affected is astonishing. While the number of reports surely includes cases found to be without merit, it is interesting to note that about 80 percent of children involved in these investigations are never removed from the home. Many victims are under the age of five; boys and girls are abused in equal measure.
The effects of abuse and neglect in childhood can haunt victims well into adulthood and beyond. Some of the ways this maltreatment affects victims include:
- Low self-esteem
- Uncontrolled emotions
- Relationship issues
- Hypervigilance or fear
- Tendency for self-harm
- Eating disorders
- Alcohol and drug use
- Sleep issues
- Aversion to physical contact
- Poor academic performance or truancy
- Criminal activity
Parents as Perpetrators
In about 80 percent of cases, the victim’s parents are the perpetrators. The perpetrators are more likely to be female. Child abuse studies indicate three major risk factors associated with a child’s likelihood to be the victim of abuse or neglect:
- Parental depression
- Parental substance abuse
- Parental history of victimization as a child
Cycle of Abuse
Children learn what they see. If a parent is more likely to abuse their child after having been a childhood victim themselves, it stands to reason that their offspring will suffer the same fate if the cycle is not broken. Society has a responsibility to put an end to the cycle that affects generation after generation. Parents need the tools to do better for their children.
Cost-Benefits for Society
Each year, abuse and neglect costs taxpayers approximately $80 billion in the form of police involvement, emergency health care and hospitalization, and child welfare programs. If the psychological repercussions of abuse and neglect are left untreated, society is destined to pay a price down the line when abuse-related issues become apparent in the need to address increased demand for special education programs, criminal justice initiatives, and homelessness services.
Treating victims of child abuse is one way to counteract its effects. Children who receive counseling and other forms of intervention grow up with the benefit of exposure to healthier ways to handle stress and negative emotions, so they do not fall into the trap of expressing their frustration in harmful ways.
New Jersey DCPP Attorneys at the Law Offices of Theodore J. Baker Represent Those Accused of Child Abuse
If you have been charged with child abuse or neglect, you should speak to a New Jersey DCPP attorney at the Law Offices of Theodore J. Baker. For an initial consultation, contact us online or call us at 856-795-9400. Located in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, we represent clients throughout South Jersey, including Haddonfield, Marlton, Medford, Moorestown, Mount Laurel, and Voorhees.