The Recession Is Hurting Children More Than We Realize

babies abused recessionIt's been a rough few years. The cost of living seems to rise every time you buy a gallon of milk, jobs are scarce, and this crappy economy is slower than Christmas. So it certainly makes sense that parents -- especially new parents -- would be feeling a serious amount of stress. After all, if one of you (or god forbid, both of you) doesn't have a job, you can't hire a babysitter and get some relief from the job of raising kids.

However, the fact that incidents of child abuse have risen since the beginning of the recession is still shocking. Could stress actually cause a non-abuser to suddenly hurt her child?

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There was a 65 percent increase in reports of abusive head trauma, or AHT, after December 2007, with three-quarters of those children being under the age of 1. That's babies being abused to the point of head trauma. AHT occurs when a baby is either shaken to the point of trauma, dropped, or hit sharply on the head. In really severe cases, the result is brain damage or liver damage. Pre-2007 there were 8.9 cases of AHT per 100,000 kids; after December 2007, that number jumped to 14.7 per every 100,000 kids.

It's hard to comprehend the abuse of a child, especially an infant. When my daughter was born, we were absolutely struggling financially, and I was feeling frustrated being the primary caregiver, sometimes to the point of unbridled anger. However, my anger was never, ever, never directed at my baby. How could it be? So I'm having a hard time wrapping my head around these numbers that show during tough times, more kids are abused. Snapping at toddlers and big kids? That's something we can all relate to when we're under a lot of stress. It's not great, but it doesn't translate to physical abuse to the point of trauma.

It's never a child's fault that you're in dire financial straits. If you really feel like lashing out at your child, get some help.

Can you understand these numbers?

 

Image via Chris P./Flickr

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