Cost of Child Abuse

  • The cost of abuse to a child lasts a lifetime. The cost to our country as a whole is approximately $124 billion annually, according to a recent report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The estimated average lifetime cost per victim of nonfatal child maltreatment is $210,012 in 2010 dollars, including $32,648 in childhood health care costs; $10,530 in adult medical costs; $144,360 in productivity losses; $7,728 in child welfare costs; $6,747 in criminal justice costs; and $7,999 in special education costs.
  • For more information, click here: Cost of Child Abuse and Neglect Rival Other Major Public Health Problems

Long-term Impact of Child Abuse

  • 22% of maltreated children have learning disorders requiring special education.
  • 27% of children who are abused or neglected become delinquents, compared to 17% of children in the general population.
  • In a study of 17,000 adults, those abused as children were more likely to become suicidal; more likely to have heart disease, cancer, chronic lung disease, and liver disease; twice as likely to be smokers; twice as likely to be severely obese; twice as likely to become alcoholics; and three times a likely to develop a drug addiction.
  • In 2007, Stanford University researchers found that children suffering post-traumatic stress disorder and exposure to severe trauma actually have smaller brains. Severe trauma includes parental homicide, sexual assault, sexual abuse, school shootings, and ongoing community violence. Researchers found a nearly 9% reduction in the size of the hippocampus, a horseshoe-shaped sheet of neurons that controls memory and emotions.
  • A study conducted in 2009 showed an increased risk of STDs in childhood abuse or neglect survivors tracked over time.
  • In addition to the known mental health impacts of child abuse, a 2009 control study found that childhood maltreatment reduces immune function, an effect that can linger long after the maltreatment has ended.

Investing in Prevention

  • Prevention of child abuse and neglect requires public education and a commitment from communities to provide emotional, social, and financial support systems for families.
  • Research shows that investing in child abuse prevention programs – including parent education classes, safety programs designed to make children less vulnerable targets for abuse, and home visitation – yields a 19 to 1 savings over the long-term costs to society of child abuse.
  • The American Medical Association reports that preventing child maltreatment may be a key factor in preventing youth violence. Intervention may help prevent future domestic violence and dating violence.