Michael Petit: Why Child Abuse Is So Acute in the US
Millions of children are reported as abused and neglected every year
Why is the problem of violence against children so much more acute in the US than anywhere else in the industrialised world, asks Michael Petit, President of Every Child Matters.
Over the past 10 years, more than 20,000 American children are believed to have been killed in their own homes by family members. That is nearly four times the number of US soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The child maltreatment death rate in the US is triple Canada’s and 11 times that of Italy. Millions of children are reported as abused and neglected every year. Why is that?
Part of the answer is that teen pregnancy, high-school dropout, violent crime, imprisonment, and poverty - factors associated with abuse and neglect - are generally much higher in the US.
Further, other rich nations have social policies that provide child care, universal health insurance, pre-school, parental leave and visiting nurses to virtually all in need.
In the US, when children are born into young families not prepared to receive them, local social safety nets may be frayed, or non-existent. As a result, they are unable to compensate for the household stress the child must endure.