Lesson 6 of 7  - learn to parent effectively

Report says 90,000 U.S.
infants maltreated a year

By Will Dunham,
Reuters News Service

Editing by Peter Cooney,
Yahoo Online News,  4/3/08

The Web address of this article is http://sfhelp.org/parent/news/infant_abuse.htm

Updated  04/27/2015

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      This brief YouTube video provides perspective on this research summary. The video mentions eight self-improvement lessons in this site - I've reduced that to seven.

Please see my comments after the article. The links and hilights below are mine. -  Peter Gerlach, MSW

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About one of every 43 U.S. infants is physically abused or neglected annually, and those babies are especially at risk in the first week of their lives, U.S. health officials said on Thursday.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in its first report on maltreatment of babies up to age 1 that 91,278 of them were physically abused or neglected in 2006.

Other new government figures showed that 499 babies up to age 1 were killed in maltreatment cases in 2006.

About a third of the maltreated infants -- 29,881 -- were abused or neglected before they were 1 week old, mostly during their first four days, the CDC said. Many of those cases may be linked to maternal drug use, the CDC said.

Physical abuse included beating, kicking, biting, burning and shaking, and neglect included abandonment, maternal drug use or failing to meet basic needs like housing, food, clothing and access to medical care, according to the report.

The findings were particularly troubling because children who suffer such abuse tend to go on to have numerous health and other problems, officials said.

"The findings do demonstrate a clear pattern of early neglect and physical abuse that is largely preventable," Ileana Arias, who heads injury prevention efforts at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told reporters.

Based on data from child protection agencies in 45 states, the report found that more than 2.3 percent of infants up to age 1 suffered substantiated nonfatal maltreatment in fiscal 2006, which ran from October 1, 2005, to September 30, 2006.

"Unfortunately, the report didn't surprise me," Jim Hmurovich, who heads the Chicago-based advocacy group Prevent Child Abuse America, said in a telephone interview.

"When a child is born, no matter how well the parent has been prepared for the coming of the child, it's a very stressful time. We know that the younger a child is, the higher the rate of victimization," Hmurovich added.

Most cases of maltreatment in the first week were reported by medical personnel, the CDC said. Thirteen percent of those week-old babies had been subjected to physical abuse.

"One hypothesis for the concentration of maltreatment and neglect reports in the first few days of life is that the majority of reports resulted from maternal or newborn drug tests," the CDC report said.

The report said 905,000 U.S. children of all ages were victims of maltreatment in 2006. Maltreatment is the third leading cause of death of U.S. children under 3, Arias said.

CDC epidemiologist Rebecca Leeb said most similar previous research focused on children from birth to age 3. Because this is the first data looking at babies up to age 1, it is unclear whether the problem is increasing or decreasing, Leeb said.

"We looked at some rates in Canada and it looks like the rates are fairly similar to what they're seeing. But we have no idea what the trends are at this time," Leeb added.

Slightly more boys than girls were victims. The CDC report did not provide rates among racial or ethnic groups.

Copyright 2008 Reuters Limited. Copyright 2008 Yahoo! Inc. All rights reserved.

Comments

      This CDC report provides 2006 statistics on mistreatment of American children under one year old. The summary doesn't estimate how much such abuse goes  unreported. The statistics probably greatly understate the true number of abused infants, since typical parents would try to hide or deny it.

      The report doesn't describe how these statistics were gathered. It also doesn't examine what triggered the abuse, or how many abusive parents and grandparents were abused themselves in their early years.

      A CDC official is quoted as saying such abuse and neglect "is largely preventable" - but doesn't suggest how. The finding that much of the infant mal-treatment related to maternal drug use illustrates how the effects of the [wounds + unawareness] cycle gets passed down our generations. Drug dependence is usually self-medication for significant inner pain.

      After 36 years' clinical research, I propose that child abuse is preventable if typical parents (a) hit true bottom and (b) take responsibility for reducing their psychological wounds and unawareness, and (c) commit to effective (high-nurturance) parenting. Without public education and appropriate legislation, breaking the [wounds + unawareness] cycle and reducing child abuse isn't likely (in my opinion). - Peter Gerlach, MSW

      To prepare young kids for successful independence, parents and supporters need to want to learn the information on this ad-free online course.

      A helpful source of related information is the CDC's ongoing A.C.E. study

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