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Missoula Measures - Child Abuse


Why this topic?

Being abused or neglected as a child has a negative impact on a person’s entire life, including development of social skills, learning ability, self-esteem, physical health, and mental health. It not only puts children at a disadvantage among their peers, but it also increases their risk of violence and other unacceptable behavior as an adult, including abusing ones own children.

Substantial economic costs are also associated with child abuse and neglect, including the direct costs of funds spent each year on child welfare services for abused and neglected children (out of home placement, medical treatment, counseling, criminal prosecution and treatment of perpetrators, etc), as well as the indirect costs dedicated to addressing the short- and long-term consequences of abuse and neglect (social violence, poverty, family violence, counseling, incarceration, long-term psychiatric care, etc.).

Costs associated with child abuse - CDC

“Significant associations were found between child sexual abuse and higher rates of major depression, anxiety disorder, conduct disorder, substance use disorder, suicidal behavior, domestic violence, rape, sexual problems, mental health problems, low self-esteem, and problems with intimate relationships. Those whose abuse involved intercourse had the highest risk of disorder.”

The Leadership Council, Research, Child Abuse Economics

How are we doing?

The Montana Department of Family Services, funded by state and federal monies, is the only agency that responds to reports of child abuse and neglect. The Missoula division receives about 100 child abuse calls each month. 55% of calls fit within the legal statutes for child abuse or neglect. Of those, about:


In Montana in FY2009, there were:

For substantiated cases, there must be a preponderance of evidence for substantial risk of harm or actual risk of harm.

Each report received is counted as 1, but may involve more than 1 child, or more than 1 type of abuse.  Therefore, the sum will be greater than the whole.

Reasons for DFS involvement:

(This adds up to 115% because some kids suffer more than one form of abuse.)

In Missoula County, as of March, 2007, there were 157 children in out-of-home placements. The number of Kids in Care has been decreasing slightly, which seems to correlate to a similar decrease in meth cases in the county.


Fiscal Year Kids ENTERING
Foster Care
Foster Care
2009 78 65
2010 76 70


Related Data

Factors influencing child abuse and neglect:

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The annual costs of child maltreatment in the US – 2001:

Frank Putnam, Director, Mayerson Center for Safe and Healthy Children, Trauma Treatment Replication Center


The top 4 leading causes of death for children between ages 1 - 15:

  1. Unintentional injury (includes traffic crashes)
  2. Congenital abnormalities or cancer
  3. Homicide
  4. Suicide
    CDC, Nat'l Center for Injury Prevention & Control

Abuse Rates & Income

While poverty might seem to increase the likelihood of child abuse or neglect, families living in poverty who can make use of social services and help-agencies are very able to provide the consistent and nurturing homes that children need. On the other hand, parents floundering in financial, emotional or physical stress, or who are dealing with their own drug or alcohol addiction, and without a support network, regardless of income level, are more apt to resort to violence as an emotional outlet in times of stress.

Spouse & Child Abuse

In homes where domestic violence occurs, children are physically abused and neglected at a rate 15 times higher than the U.S. national average. Hearings before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, 1990.

In 60–75% of families where a woman is battered, the children are also battered. Bowker 1988.

National Center for Injury Prevention and Control - Maltreatment of Children


The reduction of child abuse numbers is not only in the hands of parents, but is in the hands of the community. Parents must be consistent and caring in their relationship with their children, but must also have family, neighbor and community support especially in the form of parenting skills training, and coping skills during times of stress or crisis.

Missoula is rich in resources for families. Collaboration among agencies is increasing and becoming more effective, and more agencies are looking into prevention strategies.


Related Websites

Child Welfare Information Gateway - long term consequence of child abuse and neglect. - fact sheets about child abuse

Links to health data, statistics and information from many national sources.


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