Statistics explain why it's necessary to call attention to child abuse

Posted: Tuesday, April 08, 2003

Why do we need a declaration naming April as Child Abuse Prevention Month?

The latest numbers for Alaska, as compiled by the U.S. Department of Health and Social Services for 2001, tell us why:

A child population of 193,000 in 2001.

13,778 referrals for suspected child abuse and neglect survived their first screening, nearly three-quarters of the total number of complaints received.

Fewer than 100 reports were made by the alleged victims.

7,782 substantiated reports of child abuse or neglect.

8,165 reports where child abuse or neglect cannot be confirmed by a case worker but may have occurred.

3,523 cases of physical abuse, 9,327 cases of neglect, 1,586 cases of psychological maltreatment. (Children suffering more than one type of abuse are counted for each type of abuse.)

7,954 boys were neglected or abused.

7,991 girls were neglected or abused.

4,296 cases involved children age birth to 3 years.

12,367 cases involved children age birth to 11 years.

12.8 percent of the state's child population received preventive services.

Four children died as result of abuse.

Nationally, the government's report shows a slight increase in child abuse and neglect, the second year the numbers have risen. About 1,300 children died of abuse or neglect in 2001, 100 more than in the previous year. The total number of victims reached 903,000. As in previous years, 81 percent of the perpetrators were parents.

The numbers, all of them, are large and sickly but give little sense that a life is involved, that a child is being inflicted with pain and terror.

That changes when we read of an 8-month-old boy being taken to the emergency room with a bruised and swollen face, a broken forearm and broken ankles.

It changes yet again when we learn that the abuse of that 8-month-old boy occurred in Fairbanks.

That is why we need not just one month to be aware of, and to prevent, child abuse and neglect.

-- Fairbanks Daily News-Miner

April 3

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