Housing Troubles Linked to Increased Child AbusePosted: 02 Aug 2012 12:08 PM PDT

Housing insecurity is associated with higher rates of child abuse, according to a new study from researchers at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. The study, titledTrends in Physical Abuse and the Relationship with Housing Insecurity, looked at hospital discharge data for 38 freestanding children’s hospitals from January 2000 until December 2009.

The findings:

  • Over a ten-year period, hospital admission rates for physical abuse and high-risk traumatic brain injury increased across 38 pediatric hospitals in contrast to the admission rate for all injuries.
  • Within metropolitan areas, 90-day delinquency and foreclosure rates were associated with abuse-related hospital admissions.
  • Within metropolitan areas, the unemployment rate was not associated with abuse-related hospital admissions.

These findings stand in contrast to data reported by the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System (NCANDS), which have shown a steady decline in physical abuse over the same decade. The authors propose that child welfare agencies at the state and local level consider additional methods of tracking child abuse data, including hospital data. They also suggest pediatricians and other professionals working with families be aware that housing insecurity may be adversely affecting families and connect families to the appropriate social services.

It is important to be aware of the impact the downturn in the economy has on the health and stability of children. This study illustrates what can happen when the stress of economic hardship collides with the challenges of raising children. Even with the best intentions, parents can be pushed to the breaking point. The best way to prevent this from happening is to provide parents with the support, skills and resources they need to succeed.

Our Parent Helpline is a terrific resource for parents looking to ease their burden. Helpline Specialists provide information and referral services for families in New York State struggling with parenting issues, challenging children, the child protective system, housing and basic needs, and more. A trained specialist is available 9 a.m. until 10 p.m. After 10 p.m you can leave your number with our answering service, and we’ll get back to you the following morning. The Parent Helpline is toll free and confidential at 1-800-CHILDREN.


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