The Poverty-Child Abuse Connection
Our nation is steeped in a crisis that, I believe, is among the most critical we face. It is one that bears a more deeply rooted societal impact than we could ever begin to fathom. That crisis is child poverty.
Nearly 1 in 4 children in the U.S. now live in households with incomes below poverty level (less than $22K). This alarming trend represents a 3% increase over child poverty rates just two years ago. Can any child fall prey to physical or sexual abuse, regardless of socioeconomic status? Absolutely. Sadly though, history has proven a Poverty-Abuse Connection and statistics paint a far more frightening picture for children in poorer households.
A 2010 study lead by Andrea J. Sedlak cited that children living in lower-income or poverty-level households are 3 times more likely to become victims of physical or sexual abuse, or neglect. Over the past couple of years, the Poverty-Abuse Connection has kept in lock step. In 2011, there were approx. 279,000 cases of reported child abuse or neglect. That figure increased to 287,000 in 2012… a 3% rise. Coincidence? Not so much.
Another key component of this crisis? Nearly half (47%) the nation’s poorest children live in single-parent households, primarily with their mother. Unfortunately, children living with single females “experience poverty at a rate that is 4 times higher than kids in married couple families.”
Enter sexual predators.
It’s tough enough raising kids on your own and even more challenging when one considers the countless opportunities for sexual predators to gain access to children. Over 90% of abused children know the person doing them harm. One all-too-common tactic sexual predators use is to befriend single mothers as a means of gaining access to their children. In fact, children living with a non-biological adult along with a single parent are 20 times more likely to be victims of sexual abuse than children living with both biological parents.
This is a complex issue, not easily resolved. So, what can you and I do? Well, there are a few steps we can take to help…
1) Have a child’s back. Keep an eye out for those kids you know who may fall into this higher-risk category (poverty & single mom). If you see warning signs of abuse, get help immediately. For resources to contact, see: www.gingerkadlec.com/resources/do-you-suspect-abuse.
2) If you know a single mother or family struggling to get by, connect them with local resources. Contact your local United Way or other community organization that has access to resources for qualified child care, career placement, housing, food banks and other life services that the family may need.
3) Support local organizations that help children and families. The old adage, “Every dollar counts” is oh-so-true. Make a financial contribution if you are able. Volunteer at a food pantry, women’s shelter, YWCA or other organization that helps families, women and children in need.
4) Share this message with friends, family and your state and federal elected officials. There certainly isn’t one easy or right answer to addressing our country’s fiscal issues or economic woes. The more our collective voices are heard, though, the greater the opportunity for solutions to evolve.
Working together, I am convinced we can put a sizable dent in the Poverty-Abuse Connection and WILL improve the world one child at a time.
Working to improve the world one child at a time, Ginger has made it her life mission to raise awareness of the world-wide epidemic of child abuse. An impassioned child advocate, trainer, speaker and child forensic interviewer, Ginger can be contacted via her website “Ginger Kadlec: 4UrKids™” at www.gingerkadlec.com.