The number of children being abused has gone up in the past few years despite the child protection services data showing a decreased rate of child abuse, according to a new study from the Yale School of Medicine.
According to the study, there has been a 5 percent increase, between 1997 and 2009, in the number of cases of serious injuries among children instead of a 55 percent decrease as claimed by child protection agencies.
For the study, researchers from the Yale School of Medicine analyzed data from the Kids' Inpatient Database (KID). Researchers examined the kinds of serious cases, head injuries, burns, injury to the abdomen, which had occurred between 1997 and 2009. They found that the number of children hospitalized due to serious injuries increased by 4.9 percent during those 12 years.
Medical Daily had previously reported that the number of children being hospitalized for serious brain injuries had risen by 3.1 percent between 2000 and 2009. The current study has shown that falling economy coupled with the housing crisis had led to an increase in the child abuse cases registered in the U.S.
"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," said John M. Leventhal, MD, director of the Child Abuse Programs at Yale-New Haven Children's Hospital.
Child abuse can trigger a lifetime of problems for children. Various studies have shown that being abused as a child puts a person at a higher risk of developing obesity, metabolic syndrome, a poor immune system, heart attack, cancer and an increased risk of drug abuse.
One of the reasons that explain the decrease in the child abuse cases reported by the child protection agencies is that they tend to include all physical abuse to the child as child abuse, whereas the present Yale study focused only on severe physical injuries, according to a press release.
"The kids who get hospitalized for physical abuse represent a very small proportion (about 2 to 4 percent) of all the children in the country who are physically abused," Leventhal told Reuters Health.