Generally, the earlier and more severe the abuse and neglect experience the more severe the negative consequences.There is also more and more evidence documenting that abuse and neglect or trauma, especially on developing minds and bodies, can negatively effect brain and nervous system functions resulting in a range of behavioral and cognitive disorders.
These psychological and physiological problems in turn create other difficulties for individuals and society such as poor educational and job performance, unemployment and criminal behavior.
Despite the fact that so many people agree that child abuse and neglect is a devastating problem there is little money available for programs that engage families before a child is harmed. Our federal and state governments will never fully fund prevention efforts and the funding they do provide is often tenuous and temporary. If we want to significantly reduce the abuse and neglect that occurs in Calhoun County we must develop our own source of funding for our local programs. A need for local support for prevention programs will always exist.
What is Child Abuse and Neglect?
According to the State of Michigan Child Protection Law:
Child Abuse is harm or threatened harm to a child's health or welfare through non-accidental physical or mental injury; sexual abuse; sexual exploitation; or maltreatment.
Child Neglect is harm or threatened harm to a child's health which occurs through failure to provide adequate food, clothing, shelter or medical care or placing a child at an unreasonable risk by failing to supervise the child or eliminate known risks.
Factors that may contribute to Child Abuse and Neglect (CA/N):
- substance abuse
- poverty and economic stress
- poor housing
- limited community support or services
- lack of parenting skills
- mental illness
- health problems - exposure to CA/N as a child
- poor understanding of child development
- social isolation
- domestic violence
Child abuse and neglect is an on-going fundamental problem in our community.Thousands of families are reported for suspected child abuse or neglect each year but they are not all investigated for a variety of reasons.Child abuse and neglect is an on-going fundamental issue in Calhoun County that causes many other problems in our community. Thousands of families are reported for suspected child abuse and a few thousand of those are investigated every year. In Calhoun County, during the year 2015, 4,903 children, ages 0-17 were in families investigated for abuse and neglect. This is a staggering 44% increase from 2011! Out of those investigated in 2015, 837 children were confirmed as victims.(1)
Child abuse and neglect is a fundamental problem because people learn about intimacy, trust and loving relationships during their developmental years and abuse and neglect can interfere with and prohibit this basic childhood development.
If a child’s initial and primary relationships are distorted and negative they may live their whole lives recreating or reacting to these negative experiences. Relationship difficulties, personality disorders, depression, low self-esteem, substance abuse and interpersonal violence are common long-term reactions to experiencing childhood abuse and neglect.
(1)The 2016 KIDS COUNT Data Book: State Trends in Child Well-Being, Annie E. Casey Foundation,
About Child Abuse and Neglect
The Child Abuse Prevention Endowment Fund