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.).
“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:
- 10% result in referrals for social services.
- 30% result in an information-gathering investigation
- 60% result in in-home investigations.
In Montana in FY2009, there were:
- 8739 reports of child abuse were received
- 1032 substantiated cases of child abuse
- 889 children entered care by the Montana Dept. of Child and Family Services.
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:
- 71% neglect and medical neglect
- 13% physical abuse
- 9% sexual abuse
- 22% psychological and other maltreatment
(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.
IN MISSOULA COUNTY:
|Fiscal Year||Kids ENTERING
Factors influencing child abuse and neglect:
- Being abused as a child
- Abusive relationships in the household
- Drug or alcohol abuse in the household
- Financial stress
- Having children with special needs (disabled, chronically ill, etc)
- Lack of support in the community or in the family
- Lack of, or late, pre-natal care
- Immaturity – teen parenting
- Single parenting
- Anger management issues
- Mental health issues in the household
- Social isolation
The annual costs of child maltreatment in the US – 2001:
Direct costs = $24 billion - medical care, mental health care, case investigation, foster care, law enforcement, prosecution, incarceration.
Indirect costs = $69 billion - special education, continuing mental & physical health problems, criminality, substance abuse, STDs, employment challenges.
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:
- Unintentional injury (includes traffic crashes)
- Congenital abnormalities or cancer
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.
Child Welfare Information Gateway - long term consequence of child abuse and neglect.
Reachout.com - fact sheets about child abuse