At the age of 30, therapy became a priority for me to set my feet, heart and mind in a healthy direction.  It was harder than keeping it all locked up, I had to process through all of the horrific events of my childhood.  It was a personal path of healing as well as educational. My father abused my mother, my sister and me. Raging, threatening, throwing things, sometimes throwing one of us, humiliation and incest seemed impossible to escape.

When in college, I focused on the mental health of women and children suffering from abuse and was shocked to learn the statistics.  At that time the stats were 1 in 4 girls molested by a family member.  I learned so much about life, surviving and thriving through the process of facing pain and moving through it with friends and professionals.

After a heart attack at 56 (in spite of being athletic, vegetarian and focused on a healthy lifestyle), I was shocked that the medical community didn’t seem to care about childhood as an issue for disease. There was no reason for me to have heart disease based on the basics that the American Heart Association presents over and over for prevention.

I started researching and discovered synergy between the abuse in childhood and heart disease (and cancer) as an adult. This also includes autoimmune disorders.

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Which children are most likely to suffer abuse or neglect?

1 in 10 children suffer from child maltreatment. 1 in 16 children suffer from sexual abuse. Nearly 1 in 10 children are witnesses to family violence.

The youngest children are the most vulnerable to maltreatment. Over 25% of abused children are under the age of three while over 45% of abused children are under the age of five.

Number of children in the United States who died because of abuse or neglect in 2012: 1,593

Of the number of children who died because of abuse or neglect…

  • 70.3% were younger than three years of age
  • 44.4% were younger than one year of age

While boys and girls are equally as likely to be victims of abuse and neglect (in 2012, 48.5% of abused children were boys while 51.2% of abused children were girls); the rate of child fatality is higher for boys (in 2012, 57.6% of child fatalities due to abuse and neglect were boys).

More than 85% of the child fatalities in 2012 were white children. However, when comparing the number of child fatalities to the population data, Pacific Islander and African-American children had the highest rates of child fatalities (4.69 and 4.67 per 100,000 Pacific Islander and African-American children).

In over 20% of the child fatalities that occurred in 2012, the child was exposed to domestic violence in the home.

How many reports of child abuse are made?

Number of reports of child abuse every year in the United States: 2.9 million

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Who is most likely to abuse or neglect children?

Of child abuse cases in 2012, in over 80% of the cases the parent was the perpetrator.

In 2012, more than four-fifths (82.2%) of perpetrators were between the ages of 18 and 44 years while two-fifths (39.6%%) of perpetrators were in the 25-34 age group.

Of the 2012 child abuse cases, 45.3% of the perpetrators were male and 53.5% were female.

What can happen to children who are abused or neglected?

Child physical abuse can result in the malformation of the brain, resulting in impaired mental development and lack of growth in vital areas.

Child abuse victims as young as three years of age have shown signs of depression and withdrawal symptoms.

Child abuse victims are more likely to exhibit anti-social behaviors, including borderline personality disorders and violent behavior.

Child abuse and maltreatment can have a multitude of long-term effects on physical health.  Research has found that during the following three years after the maltreatment investigation, 28% of abused and neglected children had a chronic health condition.

As teenagers

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Abused children are 25% more likely to experience teen pregnancy.

In a study of young adults who suffered child abuse or neglect, 80% met criteria for at least one psychiatric disorder by age 21, including depression, anxiety, eating disorders, and suicide attempts.

In a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services study of homeless youth, it found that 46% of those surveyed had escaped a home where they suffered physical abuse, and 17% left because of sexual abuse.

Children who experience child abuse and neglect are 59% more likely to be arrested as a juvenile, 28% more likely to be arrested as an adult, and 30% more likely to commit violence crime.

As adults

Adults who suffered child abuse and neglect can develop allergies, arthritis, asthma, bronchitis, high blood pressure, and ulcers, in addition to other physical disabilities because of poor health caused by the abuse.

Child abuse and neglect have been associated with panic and dissociative disorders, attention deficit and/or hyperactivity disorder, depression, anger, and post-traumatic stress disorder in children and in adults who suffered abuse.

Adults who were abused or neglected as children are more likely to abuse alcohol or drugs during their lifetimes. A study found that as many as two-thirds of individuals in drug treatment programs reported being abused as children.

How much can child abuse cost?

Uploaded Image: /uploads/images/ChildAbuse_FactsStats_BoyBookbag.jpg$124 billion: Estimated minimum annual cost of child abuse to U.S. communities to provide

  • Healthcare to treat mental illnesses, substance abuse, mental and physical disabilities, and other health-related issues
  • Child welfare and protection
  • Law enforcement and court systems allocation to handle juvenile and adult criminal cases
  • Special education costs
  • Unemployment and underemployment services and benefits

The healthcare issues don’t stop at childhood. Doctors should take the inventory regarding childhood and understand that this could be the underlying cause of disease in adulthood.