Child Abuse Linked To Home Foreclosures, Says New Study

Thousands of people lost their homes during the recent economic downturn, but adults weren’t the only ones feeling the pressure of the recession. According to a new study, child abuse incidents rose in areas that saw several home foreclosures.

Dr. Joanne Wood of the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and her colleagues found that child abuse was more prevalent in areas that saw a lot of foreclosures.

Wood said:

“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.”

The study found that with ever percent increase in mortgage delinquencies correlated to a 3% rise in hospital visits by children under the age of 6 due to suspected abuse. The study also found that there was a 5% increase in traumatic brain injuries in young children.

Wood added:

“As the foreclosure crisis is projected to continue in the near future, these results highlight the need to better understand the stress that housing insecurity places on families and communities so that we can better support them during difficult times.”

MSNBC reports that Wood’s study is not conclusive. Child abuse cases are down nationwide and Wood’s team plans to conduct a wider investigation to see if child abuse is truly linked to home foreclosures.

In the meantime, Wood and her colleagues advised state and local officials to keep better track of child abuse data.

The researches said:

“At the local and state levels, child welfare agencies should consider additional methods of tracking child abuse data, including hospital data. These efforts will enable public agencies to better monitor child abuse and neglect and to respond effectively to the needs of children and families…”