Child abuse affects more Oregon children than autism, juvenile diabetes and all forms of childhood cancer combined, according to a report released Wednesday by the Children’s Trust Fund of Oregon and Prevent Child Abuse Oregon.
The report, “Preserving Childhood: Oregon’s Leading Efforts to Prevent Child Abuse and Strengthen Families,” examines the prevalence and cost of child abuse in Oregon while also recommending best practice strategies to prevent child abuse and neglect.
Based on the science of prevention, specific proven and promising strategies to support parents and protect children are offered in the report as well as recommendations to ensure these strategies produce results for children, families, service providers and the state.
In 2011, almost 11,600 children in Oregon were confirmed victims of abuse and neglect and more than 74,000 reports of suspected abuse were received by the Oregon Department of Human Services.
The report outlines the cost of child abuse, linking childhood trauma to increased expenses in special education, foster care, juvenile delinquency, substance abuse, mental health issues and health issues later in life.
Factoring these increased costs and the number of children confirmed as victims of abuse and neglect in 2011, the report estimates the total cost for one year of child abuse and neglect in Oregon to be nearly $2.5 billion.
“Child abuse continues to be the greatest public health threat to children in Oregon,” says Dan Leonhardt, M.D., chair of Prevent Child Abuse Oregon. “Abuse and neglect negatively affects children at the very time their brains are developing, setting these children up for greater risk of development delays, academic underperformance, poor health, mental health issues and troubled relationships.”
Dr. Leonhardt knows the impact of child abuse and neglect goes beyond the tragedies seen in the courtroom or local emergency rooms. As a child abuse pediatrician with CARES Northwest and Randall’s Children Hospital, he sees the toll of child abuse and neglect firsthand.
“Preserving Childhood” offers key recommendations regarding public and private investments in best practice prevention strategies.
“We have the tools to protect children and support families in Oregon if we choose to make them accessible,” says Susan Lindauer, executive director at the Children’s Trust Fund of Oregon. “It’s a matter of investing in best practice strategies and making prevention services available to families struggling throughout the state.”
Recommended approaches highlighted in the report are nationally recognized prevention programs that are operating specifically within Oregon. These include parenting education curricula, home visitation programs and parenting support efforts.
Cambia Health Foundation sponsored the Preserving Childhood report as part of their recently expanded funding commitment to the health and well-being of children throughout the region.
“Research shows a strong link between early childhood trauma and costly adult health issues including cancer, heart disease and diabetes,” explains Peggy Maguire, Board Chair of Cambia Health Foundation. “Moreover, by investing in child abuse prevention, we can break the cycle of abuse and dramatically improve the lives and health of Oregonians now and for generations to come.”
The complete “Preserving Childhood” report can be found on the Children’s Trust Fund of Oregon website.