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Recession Increased Child Abuse, Suggests Study

Father and daughter

A recent study suggests that recession could have increased child abuse in the US. More children with brain injuries were admitted to hospital during the recession years, reveals the study. The research was based on data from hospitals in four US states. The findings were recently reported in Pediatrics journal.

Parents Under Stress
Parental stress caused by financial hardship could be the reason behind the increased child abuse. Psychologists are disturbed by these findings. The study reveals that between 2004 and 2009, 422 kids below five were admitted to hospitals with abusive head injuries in the states of Washington, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Kentucky. Most of them had to be treated in intensive care units and 16% died because of the injuries.

Babies were Abused
Before the recession, 8.9 children per 100,000 suffered abusive head injuries annually. After the recession started, the number increased to 14.7 kids per 100,000. In 2008, some hospitals found a sharp increase in the number of kids admitted due to head injuries. The affected kids in the study had an average age of nine months.

Inexperienced Male Caretakers Cause Injuries
In the US, about 1,800 toddlers are admitted every year to hospitals with abusive head injuries. But, many more cases may go unreported. Though federal data revealed less child abuse in 2008, the researchers say the term “abuse” is defined restrictively. The reason for the spike in child abuse during recession could be because mothers may have been forced to leave their toddlers with inexperienced male caretakers or fathers.

Shaken Baby Syndrome
Most of the perpetrators of child injuries were male caretakers or fathers, and rarely mothers. Male caretakers may try to silence a crying baby by shaking them violently causing “shaken baby syndrome” which occurs when the baby’s brain hits the skull and gets damaged. Psychologists say caretakers should calm themselves down before attending to a crying baby.

Government Cuts on Childcare
Child experts criticize government cuts on programs that help kids and infants. Child and daycare benefits have thus got affected. This has increased the stress on disadvantaged parents. These may be the causes for the increase in child abuse during troubling times like recession.

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