Long-term Consequences of Child Abuse
Child abuse is the physical, emotional, or sexual mistreatment of a child by his or her parent or guardian. Many do not realize how many children are abused in their homes every day. According to a publication titled Child Maltreatment 2008, children are more likely to be the victim of child abuse and neglect than they are to be the victim of anything else (Speak-Up-Be-Safe). In fact, more than one million children in the United States alone are a victim of child abuse (Wisdom, Hiller-Sturmhöfel, p. 52). One in seven adults between the ages of 18 and 54 in the U. S. report that they were sexually abused, physically abused, and/or were the victim of emotional abuse in their childhood (Zielinski, David, pg. 16). Every year over half a million children suffer serious injuries, and about fifteen hundred die from child abuse, making it the leading cause of deaths from injuries in children over a year old (Institute of Medicine, 1999). Not only does child abuse cause immediate effects on the abused child, but it creates significant effects on society which can last a lifetime. Long-term consequences on society from child abuse include the increased cost and use of substance abuse services, increased criminal activity, and increased reliance on government services. There is a direct relationship between child abuse and the later use of illegal substances. Studies have shown that being abused as a child greatly increases the chances of many complications, including the abuse of drugs and alcohol in adulthood. The more traumatic the abuse is in one’s childhood, the greater the chances are of them abusing drugs and/or alcohol as an adult (Speak-Up-Be-Safe). Many believe that users take part in drugs and alcohol as a mechanism to cope with or escape the trauma of childhood victimization and the related depression that often occurs from child abuse. People also believe that the drugs and alcohol serve as a way to improve one’s self esteem (Wisdom, Hiller-Sturmhöfel, pg. 55). Child abuse has its effects on its victims, and the use of illegal substances is sadly a way that many victims are using to help cope with it. This causes the overall use of illegal drugs in society to increase. Since child abuse causes many of its victims to abuse drugs and alcohol, substance abuse services are being used a lot more. Several doctors who are working with individuals who abuse drugs and alcohol, report that a majority of them were abused in their childhood (Cohen, Densen-Gerber). A recent study that collected data of 178 patients being treated for drug and alcohol abuse, concluded that eighty-four percent of those patients had been abused or neglected as a child (Cohen, Densen-Gerber). If eighty-four percent had been abused of that sample, imagine the total number of people who have been abused that are seeking treatment. It is very evident that child abuse is a major problem that is present in so many of the lives of those seeking treatment for drugs and alcohol abuse. The treatment for drug and alcohol abuse associated with child abuse is not something that is cheap on society. Not only does the individual seeking treatment have to pay a substantial amount of money, but the community also does through taxes. Taxpayers pay for roughly $5,000 per year for every individual who is receiving treatment for substance abuse. Since 2.5 million people are treated every year, this calculates up to 12.5 billion dollars annually. (Picker, Les). This is a significant number and a great burden on society. A great amount of our tax money is being distributed for the treatment of drugs and alcohol. This shows how much the decisions that an individual abused as a child makes affects us as taxpayers, as well as how the link between child abuse and substance abuse later in life affects society greatly. As child abuse continues to occur, criminal activity in the community also increases....
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