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CPS Says Child Abuse Is Down 55%, But A New Study Proves Otherwise

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child abuseThere are competing numbers out there when it comes to child abuse statistics. It’s a crime that hides below the surface, so it’s obviously difficult to count. These horrible actions are normally only caught when things get really bad. When a child ends up at the hospital with a concussion or a broken bone, that’s when outsiders realize that abuse is going on. So while it shouldn’t be a huge surprise that the numbers of these instances aren’t always identical, we should all be alarmed by the range and skewing of data on abuse between a new study by the Yale Children’s Hospital and previous findings by Child Protective Services.

This new Yale study, led by Dr. John M. Leventhal, director of the Child Abuse Programs at Yale-New Haven Children’s Hospital, says that severe cases of abuse that end in physical injury have gone up about five percent in the last 12 years. He and  his team looked at hospital records for serious medical trauma, such as head injury, burns, and fractures, that resulted from physical abuse. The increase in these cases was small, given the long period of time researched, but it’s still extremely significant.

More than anything, Leventhal’s work is important because it contradicts studies done by government agencies so much. While they were looking at overall abuse, not just serious injuries, child protective services say that child abuse is down by as much as 55%. That’s a much rosier outlook than the one found by Yale. That type of improvement would mean that we’re doing better when it comes to caring for and protecting children. But this new study shows no such thing.

CPS was looking at all forms of abuse, so their numbers are bound to be different. But it doesn’t change the fact that they’re selling a much more optimistic picture about the state of in our country. They’re telling people that it’s getting better, that we’re doing okay. And yet, five children die every day as a result of child abuse. That is a mind-blowing statistic. It’s not what you imagine when you hear that abuse is down by 55%.

The reason these numbers and statistics matter is because they often determine how much attention a problem gets. When you hear that child abuse is down by so much, people begin to assume that we don’t have to worry about it. They think we’re on the right path. Learning that severe injuries are increasing gives an entirely new picture. And it puts more urgency into educating parents so that these horrible acts don’t continue.

As Dr. Leventhal said, “ “These results highlight the challenges of helping parents do better by their children and the importance of effective prevention programs to reduce serious abusive injuries in young children.” This is a problem that needs our attention. Hopefully those at CPS realize that, no matter what their data says.

(Photo: Helder Almeida/Shutterstock)