Monday, September 19, 2011

Rant #583: Child Abuse Up in Recession?

As if my recent posts about abusive parents weren't enough, now there is a study that may back my personal contention that we are hearing more and more stories about child abuse lately.

According to the study, an increase in such incidents, especially against infants, is being linked to the country's current recession.

The results came from a small study conducted by the Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of 422 abused kids spread over four states. The children were from mostly lower income families, where I would assume that the risk is higher for such abuse, in both good economic times and bad ones.

Based on the findings, there have been more cases of shaken babies being reported, as well as other brain-injuring abuse.

Evidently, the hospital decided to do this study when it discovered that there was a rise in abusive head trauma cases in its own environs during recession years--in this case late 2007 to June 2009--as opposed to times when the economy is in better shape.

During the recession years, such cases rose 76.5 percent, from 17 annually before 2007 to 30 cases a year during the recession years.

Overall, the rise in the number of such cases in the counties that were part of the study jibed with the percentage rise of the cases at the hospital. In those counties, there were nine cases per 100,000 children in the pre-recession years, to about 15 per 100,000 kids during the recession years--a rise of 65 percent.

Although this is a small study, this is an incredible statistic. You can point to a lot of things that caused the rise--including more teenagers and younger people who are not married and having kids, and people unemployed having children--and you can say that immaturity of the parents caused the numbers to rise.

But can you actually link the recession to the rise? Does a parent shake an infant because he or she can't afford to have an extra mouth to feed?

You really have to wonder. If our economy was better, if more people were working, if people weren't worried about their finances, would the increase be at such a high rate?

I don't know the answer to that. People are going to have children whether we are in good financial health or bad financial health, and that goes for individuals' personal finances, too.

So to sum it up, I don't know if the information in this study is valid or not. Just because someone is on the lower rung of the economic ladder doesn't mean that they will abuse their kids. And can you tie the abuse directly to the financial woes of our country?

But it is interesting that at least the news media is picking up on these abuses. Maybe the abuses were more of a behind-closed-doors type of thing in the past.

Lately, everything has been out in the open. And maybe that's a good thing.

But if the findings of the study are correct, then parents should use a punching bag to get out their feelings of inadequacy, and not babies.

What is this world coming to when infants are being used like lifeless rag dolls?

Again, I just don't know what's going on in this world, I really don't.

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