A new study comes to show there’s one unknown dire consequence to the housing crisis that hit America for the past 10 years. The study finds housing crisis and child abuse are linked to the extent that physical child abuse hit the peak in 2008, the moment when the economy crashed.
When people look back at the recent gloomy years of financial meltdown, they often remember a record-breaking number of foreclosures and delinquent mortgages. What many don’t know is those years have seen a spike in child abuse. A study published this week in journal Pediatrics found housing crisis and spike in child abuse are strongly linked.
Dr. Joanne N. Wood, lead author of the study, explains: “It’s well known that economic stress has been linked to an increase in child physical abuse, so we wanted to get to the bottom of the contrasting reports by formally studying hospital data on a larger scale”.
By looking at data from 2000 to 2009, researchers noticed the rate of admissions for physical abuse in children younger than six spiked. In 2008, it reached 0.3 percent of the total number of admissions. It might not look like much of an increase, but the study found admissions for physical abuse spiked 6.5 percent in 2009 for each percentage increase in foreclosure rate for a particular area.
Experts noticed that each 1 percent spike in mortgage delinquencies was joined by a 3 percent increase in admitted children younger than six each year. Another 5 percent spike in children admissions for traumatic brain injury treatment was noticed.
It’s not necessarily that the housing crisis was at blame for the spike in child abuse, say experts. But “this type of study can’t demonstrate causation. It can only show an association” says lead researcher Dr. Joanne N. Wood.
Dr. Wood believes the study should raise awareness among pediatricians and other health care providers for the challenges today’s troubled families are subjected to. “Providers can help connect patients and families to appropriate social services, such as cash assistance, food stamps, medical assistance benefits, and foreclosure counseling”.