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A new study released from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that child abuse and neglect rivals the cost of other high profile public health problems in the United States.  The total lifetime estimated financial costs associated with just one year of confirmed cases of child maltreatment (physical abuse, sexual abuse, psychological abuse and neglect) is approximately $124 billion, according to a report released by the CDC, published in Child Abuse and Neglect, The International Journal

The study looked at confirmed child maltreatment cases, 1,740 fatal and 579,000 non-fatal, for a 12-month period. Additional findings show:

  • The estimated average lifetime cost per death is about $1.3 million, almost all of it money the child would have earned over a lifetime if she or he had lived:
    o $14,100 in medical costs
    o $1,258,800 in productivity losses
  • The estimated average lifetime cost per victim of nonfatal child maltreatment is $210,012, including:
    o $32,648 in childhood health care costs
    o $10,530 in adult medical costs
    o $144,360 in productivity losses
    o $7,728 in child welfare costs
    o $6,747 in criminal justice costs
    o $7,999 in special education costs.

The costs associated with every victim of child maltreatment who lives is comparable to other costly health conditions such as stroke, which has a lifetime cost per person estimated at $159,846 or type 2 diabetes, which is estimated between $181,000 and $253,000.

Child maltreatment can also be linked to many emotional, behavioral, and physical health problems. Associated emotional and behavioral problems include aggression, conduct disorder, delinquency, antisocial behavior, substance abuse, intimate partner violence, teenage pregnancy, anxiety, depression, and suicide.

A promising array of prevention and response programs have great potential to reduce child maltreatment. Given the substantial economic burden of child maltreatment, the benefits of prevention will likely outweigh the costs for effective programs.

The Economic Burden of Child Maltreatment in the United States and Implications For Prevention – Released 1/31/12