The United States has the worst record of child
deaths of 29 industrialized countries.
|| America is abusing its children and the maltreatment must stop
by Barry Ellsworth
In the past 10 years, an estimated 20,000 children in the United States have died from maltreatment by family members in what is supposed to be the safe refuge of their homes.
It is the worst record of child abuse deaths in the industrialized world.
It makes one cringe to read about a recent and all-too-common case of a mother who launched an attack on her own defenseless child.
A Delaware woman punched her 1-year-old daughter, then threw her down a set of stairs because she wouldn't stop crying, ABC TV6 reported Monday.
The mother has been charged and the child is in hospital in stable condition, but similar incidents are disturbingly frequent in America.
In 2009, some 1,770 children were murdered by maltreatment across the US, the BBC reported.
And in the past 10 years 20,000 children have been killed in their own homes by family members, Child Help reported. That's triple the number of Canada and 11 times the rate of Italy, per 100,000 population.
According to UNICEF, these chilling statistics put the United States in a tie with Mexico as having the worst child-abuse death rate among 29 industrialized countries, at 2.2 deaths per 100,000 children under age 15.
And Mother Jones reported in December that in the year since the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, 194 children have died by gunshot, most in their own home.
But the deaths are the end result of the abuse iceberg and based on the number of maltreatment cases, it could be a lot higher.
More than 750,000 children and youth are treated in US hospital emergencies as a result of assault each year, more than 85 every hour, and more than 3 million referrals for child maltreatment are received by state and local agencies, the Atlanta-based Centers of Disease Control and Prevention reported.
The BBC correctly headlined its 2011 report, “America's child death shame.”
The question is, why? Why is the child maltreatment death rate so high in the United States, the richest country in the world?
According to Michael Petit, former human services commissioner for Maine and deputy of the Child Welfare League of America, part of the answer is that the teen pregnancy rate, violent crime, imprisonment and the high-school dropout rate tends to be higher in the United States. And then there is the issue of the frayed social safety net 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,” Petit said, as reported by the BBC.
As proof, he offers up the difference between two states, Texas and Vermont.
The former is a low-tax, low-service state, while Vermont is a high-tax, high-service one.
“Children from Texas are twice as likely to drop out of high school as children from Vermont,” Petit said. “They are four times more likely to be uninsured, four times more likely to be incarcerated and nearly twice as likely to die from abuse and neglect.”
So, the next question is, what steps can be taken to reduce the appalling child abuse deaths in America?
Various agencies are seeking the answer, but it is obvious that since most abuse takes place in the home, common sense tells us that should be the starting point. Parents who feel anger toward their children should call for help – another family member, local agency or a neighbor – before lashing out.
Members of the community should watch for possible abuse and report it.
The Department of Health and Human Services has published a 2013 resource guide, “Preventing Child Maltreatment and Promoting Well-Being: A Network for Action.” (Link below.)
It is too detailed to discuss in an article, but it focuses on how to reduce the risk of abuse and neglect.
Clearly, America's children must be better protected and if it means higher taxes to provide a better social safety net, surely that is a small price to pay. The future of a country rests with its children.
The National Child Abuse Hotline is 1-800-4-A-Child, (1-800-422-4453) to report maltreatment.
Author's note: The child abuse video accompanying this article is disturbing so viewer discretion is advised (Link below).