A disturbing new report reveals that child abuse in the United States has reached “epidemic” levels, with one child dying every five hours from abuse or neglect. A recent congressional report estimates that some 2,500 children were killed as a result of maltreatment in 2009, and America has the worst child abuse record in the industrialized world.The report, called America's child death shame, comes from the BBC.
Over the past 10 years, more than 20,000 American children are believed to have been killed in their own homes by family members. That is nearly four times the number of US soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.We pay the price for our stubborn refusal to provide for our citizens...with the lives of approximately 2000 children a year.
The child maltreatment death rate in the US is triple Canada's and 11 times that of Italy. Millions of children are reported as abused and neglected every year. Why is that?
Part of the answer is that teen pregnancy, high-school dropout, violent crime, imprisonment, and poverty - factors associated with abuse and neglect - are generally much higher in the US.
Further, other rich nations have social policies that provide child care, universal health insurance, pre-school, parental leave and visiting nurses to virtually all in need.
In the US, when children are born into young families not prepared to receive them, local social safety nets may be frayed, or non-existent. As a result, they are unable to compensate for the household stress the child must endure.
In the most severe situations, there is a predictable downward spiral and a child dies. Some 75% of these children are under four, while nearly half are under one.
The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan get attention on the news. The number of dead soldiers elicits an outcry of compassion and frustration...as it should.
Where is the similar outrage for the deaths of thousands of children at the hands of the adults who are supposed to care for them?
A national strategy, led by our national government, needs to be developed and implemented. For a start, the Congress should adopt legislation that would create a National Commission to End Child Abuse and Neglect Fatalities.You should watch it all -- HERE and read about it HERE.
And no children's programmes should be on the chopping block, federal or state. Children did not crash the US economy. It is both shortsighted economic policy and morally wrong to make them pay the price for fixing it.
But instead as the US economy lags, child poverty soars, and states cut billions in children's services, we are further straining America's already weak safety net.
Inevitably, it means more children will die. The easy answer is to blame parents and already burdened child protection workers. But easy answers don't solve complex problems.
And with millions of children injured and thousands killed, this problem is large indeed, and it deserves a large response.