By Lala Fogerty
Think child abuse doesn’t affect you or your life? Think child abuse is “someone else’s” problem? Think again! If you stop to consider just the financial impact alone – it might just change your mind about the impact abuse actually has. According to the CDC, abuse costs our country a staggering $500 billion dollars a year. We can break that ridiculous number down into court costs, healthcare costs, the cost of drug abuse and prostitution, but the bottom line is really this – every single case of abuse causes a ripple effect. We are all impacted by the ripples, at some point, even if that impact is solely an economic one.
The culture of abuse is a complicated one. Victims typically go on to be abusers or perpetual victims, or suffer from any of a host of disorders. Traditionally, unfortunately, society has focused on the symptoms of abuse – addiction, alcoholism, psychiatric disorders, eating disorders, juvenile delinquency, teen pregnancy et al, rather than focusing on the cause of those symptoms.
Children who experience child abuse and neglect are 59% more likely to be arrested as a juvenile, 28% more likely to be arrested as an adult, and 30% more likely to commit violent crime. Abused and neglected children are 11 times more likely to engage in criminal behavior as an adult. Abused children are less likely to practice safe sex, putting them at greater risk for STDs. They’re also 25% more likely to experience teen pregnancy.
There is a direct correlation between adverse childhood experiences and adult issues. We know the facts now. We know the causation of a seemingly endless list of societal woes, and we know that changing the culture of abuse is easier than we tend to make it. Abuse stops when WE stop it through education, prevention and intervention. We can prevent abuse, or we can react to the aftermath. Either way, we deal with it.