Child abuse is reaching shocking proportions globally. The stats you are about to read show just how widespread the problem has become.The National Institute of Health reports that approximately 80 % of those who attempted suicide had a history of child abuse. About 30% of abused and neglected children will later abuse their own children, continuing the horrible negative spiral.
We examine the US, UK, Australia and an outlier Japan, where child abuse cases have soared 111-fold in the last 30 years. Over 4,000,000 child abuse cases were reported in the US in 2015. Abused children show much higher tendencies for risky behaviours in later life. CM wrote about the shocking outcome of the independent report on child grooming gangs in Rotherham showing that the police and government were complicit for decades. We also wrote about abuse affecting safety at US schools, including mass shootings.
Warning – the data make for quite heavy reading.
In 2016, CM wrote a piece on the breakdown in the nuclear family in Japan. The Ministry of Health, Labor & Welfare (MHLW) denoted that cases handled for child abuse in 2016 hit a record 122,578 cases, 111x the level of 1989. Part of the problem here would be due to a lack of reporting back then. However the growth in the last decade is still extreme. The MHLW denote over the last decade:
- Physical related violence fell from 41.2% to 26% (despite doubling in absolute terms).
- Neglect fell 38.5% to 21.1% (despite an 80% increase in absolute terms)
- Sexual abuse fell from 3.2% to 1.3% (despite a 50% increase in absolute terms)
- Psychological abuse jumped from 17.2% to 51.5% (a 10-fold absolute increase)
In the last decade filings of child abuse with the police have surged from 7% of all cases to 45%. Reporting to family or relatives has declined but neighbours remain the second largest factor in reporting abuse.
By prefecture, child abuse per 1000 children looks as follows as at 2016. The national average stands at 7.3 children per 1,000.
While the rate of growth is high, Australia’s Institute of Family Studies has reported in its June 2017 statistics that in 2015/16 a total of 355,935 notifications of child abuse were made vs 252,962 made in 2011/12. Total substantiations grew from 48,420 to 60,989 respectively.
The rate of notifications has risen from 33.8 per 1,000 children in 2011-12 to 42.0 per 1,000 in 2015-16 (AIHW, 2011, 2017).
- Physical abuse accounted for 18.3%
- Neglect accounted for 24.9%
- Sexual abuse accounted for 12.2%
- Psychological abuse accounted for 44.5%
- 51% of victims were female.
In Queensland, South Australia and the Northern Territory neglect was the most common type of substantiated maltreatment. Victoria had the largest proportion of emotional abuse substantiations (64.5%) compared to other states and territories, whereas South Australia had the smallest proportion of emotional abuse cases (25.2%).
While there were some gender differences for all abuse and neglect types, girls were significantly more likely to be the subject of substantiation cases of sexual abuse (15.8%) compared to boys (8.5%). The proportion of substantiated cases of harm/risk of harm from child maltreatment related to sexual abuse ranged from 3.4% in the Northern Territory to 16.6% in New South Wales and Western Australia.
Infants (children aged less than 1 year) were most likely to be the subject of a substantiation (16.1 per 1,000 infants), followed by children aged 1-4 years (9.0 per 1,000 children aged 1-4). Children aged 15-17 years were the least likely to be the subjects of a substantiation (3.9 per 1,000 children aged 15-17).
Australian children from remote and very remote areas were most likely to be the subject of a substantiation (16.2 per 1000 and 23.5 per 1000 respectively) compared with children in major cities (6.2 per 1000). Children in lower socio-economic areas were more likely to be the subject of a substantiation than children in higher socio-economic areas, with 6.9% of substantiations occurring in the highest socio-economic areas compared with 35.7% in the lowest socio-economic areas.
This contradicts the trend in Japan were relatively poorer (tend to be remote) areas seem less prone to incidents of child abuse.
Perhaps the disturbing sign in Australia is the incidence of out of home care (OOHC) which continues to swell in numbers. Between the years 2014-15 and 2015-16 there was a 10.8% increase in children (from 11,581 to 12,829 children) admitted to OOHC. In 2015-16 there were 3,035 more children admitted to OOHC than were discharged. In 2015-16, the median age of admission to OOHC was 6 years, with 46% of children admitted to OOHC aged under 5. In comparison, the median age of discharge from OOHC was 9 years and 32% were aged 15-17, compared with 8% admitted to OOHC.
Most children who were in OOHC on 30 June 2016 were residing in home-based care (94%). Of these children, 39% were in foster care, 49% were in relative/kinship care, 5% in third-party parental care and 1% were in some other type of home-based care.
The US is a whole other category. While the media screams about the mistreatment of children at the Mexican border how many of them know the extent of child abuse within their own country? The American Society of Positive Care of Children notes,
- 4 million child mistreatment referral reports received in 2015 vs 3.6mn in 2014.
- Child abuse reports involved 7.2 million children vs 6.2mn in 2014.
- 207,000 children received foster care services.
- The financial cost of child abuse and neglect in the US is estimated at $585 billion (equivalent to the GDP of Sweden or Taiwan)
- 75.3% of victims are neglected.
- 17.2% of victims are physically abused.
- 8.4% of victims are sexually abused.
- 6.9% of victims are psychologically mistreated.
- Highest rate of child abuse in children under one (24.2% per 1,000).
- Over one-quarter (27%) of victims are younger than 3 years.
- Almost five children die every day from child abuse.
- 80% of child fatalities involve at least one parent.
- 74.8% of child fatalities are under the age of 3.
- 72.9% of the child abuse victims die from neglect.
- 43.9% of the child abuse victims die from physical abuse.
- 49.4% of children who die from child abuse are under one year.
- Almost 60,000 children are sexually abused.
- More than 90% of juvenile sexual abuse victims know their perpetrator.
- 14% of all men in prison and 36% of women in US prisons were abused as children, twice the frequency seen in the general population.
- In 2016, more than 2,300 children were reported as victims to the National Human Trafficking Hotline.
- Average age of entry by a child prostitute is 13 yo. Life expectancy after becoming a prostitute is only 7 years. 57% of prostitutes were sexually abused as children.
Government figures show that 3,171 offences have been recorded in England and Wales across 80 platforms in England and Wales since a new anti-grooming law was introduced in 2017 which criminalizes sexual communication with a child. This amounts to almost 9 grooming offences on average per day. The police noted that
- girls aged 12-15 were recorded in 62% of cases of grooming
- under-11s were recorded in nearly 25% of cases.
Child abuse figures in the UK according to the NSPCC reveal
- 1 in 20 children in the UK have been sexually abused
- Over 8,000 contacts to the NSPCC’s helpline last year were concerns about sexual abuse
- There are an estimated 137,000 women and girls affected by FGM in England and Wales
- 1 in 14 children have experienced emotional abuse by a parent or guardian.
- Over 19,000 children were identified as needing protection from emotional abuse in 2017.
- 6.9% of children said they had experienced physical violence at the hands of a parent or guardian (3.7% said severe physical violence).
- The NSPCC’s helpline responded to over 11,000 contacts about physical abuse in 2016/17
- Over 6,000 children were identified as needing protection from physical abuse last year
The message is clear. The incidence of child abuse continues to rise to sickening levels. Perhaps the EU sums up its problem to an even more shocking degree:
“Few studies have been done on neglect, but analyses of worldwide research shows that prevalence is also high − 16.3% for physical neglect and 18.4% for emotional…They show a prevalence rate of 9.6% for sexual abuse (13.4% in girls and 5.7% in boys), 22.9% for physical and 29.1% for mental. Applying these figures to the population of children in Europe suggests that 18 million children suffer from sexual abuse, 44 million from physical abuse and 55 million from mental abuse.”
Maybe part of preventing neglect starts with the very basics:
So when we see media reports wailing about injustices which are relatively tiny in the grand scheme of things, perhaps we can reflect on the real problems that are right in front of our noses. #LetsEndChildAbuse