Child abuse increased as economy crashed, study shows
Poverty, stress lead to harsher parenting and abuse, researchers say By Frederik Joelving 9/19/2011
As the U.S. economy began to tank, the number of abused kids landing in the hospital with severe brain injuries spiked, a new study shows. Anecdotes linking child abuse to the recession have surfaced before, but there had been no hard data to back the connection until now.
“It’s definitely disturbing,” said Elizabeth Gershoff, a psychologist who studies parenting but was not involved in the study.
Although there is no proof that financial hardship itself is causing the uptick in abuse, earlier research has tied parental stress to child maltreatment.
“Living in poverty for parents can be very stressful,” Gershoff, of the University of Texas at Austin, told Reuters Health. “And that in turn leads to harsher parenting.”
....In the three years leading up to the crash in December 2007, the rate of abusive head injuries was 8.9 per year per 100,000 kids. After the crash, the number jumped to 14.7 per 100,000.
“If what we are seeing is even close to generalizable, that is a lot of excess children,” said Dr. Rachel P. Berger, a child abuse expert at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh who co-authored the study.