An investigative series airing on the BBC TV News this week examines child deaths from abuse in the United States. Reporters found that close to 2500 American children die because of abuse every year. That’s the highest rate in the industrialized world. Local child abuse experts say the problem of child abuse goes far beyond the most tragic and visible cases.
Dr. Steven Berkowitz heads the Penn Center for Youth and Family Trauma Response and Recovery. He says the most tragic cases tend to get attention, but the suffering of many abused children is hidden, and the consequences can last a life time: “Child maltreatment abuse and neglect highly correlates with homelessness, substance abuse, unemployment, criminal behavior and incarceration,” said Berkowitz. He added that it can result in multiple medical illnesses as well as many psychiatric problems.
Berkowitz says research shows that children born to teenage moms are at much higher risk for abuse. He says one way to reduce abuse would be more aggressive pregnancy prevention among at-risk teens – maybe even financial incentives for young girls not to become pregnant. He adds that teaching kids in school how to parent could be helpful as well.