LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - A study by the policy lab of Children's Hospital of Philadelphia links increases in physical child abuse to the mortgage foreclosures.
Arkansas Children's Hospital is in the same network of hosptials as Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.
"When people are impacted by a hardship, the risk of child abuse does go up," says Pediatrician Karen Farst of Arkansas Children's Hospital.
Farst specializes in treating child abuse and she tends to victims nearly every day. She says the number of cases coming through the hospital remains steady and much of the abuse stems from stress.
"So if we're talking about an economic stress, it could be somebody that's recently lost their job. They may be dealing with some of their own depression or some of their own feelings that things just aren't going well. So they have a little bit lower threshold for something like a crying child," says Farst.
In the policy lab report, data gathered from 38 children's hospitals across the country show for every 1 percent increase in mortgages overdue 90 days, physical child abuse went up three percent.
And five percent more children suffered traumatic brain injuries.
"It can cause a parent to act poorly to a child and ultimately do something that they're going to regret," says Amy Webb of Arkansas DHS.
Webb says of Arkansas' 33-thousand reports of child abuse last year, they deemed about a quarter legitimate. That total volume is up by around 3-thousand from the previous year.
"Hopefully we're in before a child is already in the hospital, you know already suffering from an injury related to child abuse," says Webb.
Dr. Farst says she noticed an increase in severity of child abuse cases during the peak of the recession.
"They can be injured by a caregiver shaking them, which would give them a head injury. They could be injured by being struck or thrown which could give them a fracture or bad bruising or even an injury inside of their abdomen," says Farst.
The following signs may signal the presence of child abuse or neglect from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
- Shows sudden changes in behavior or school performance
- Has not received help for physical or medical problems brought to the parents' attention
- Has learning problems (or difficulty concentrating) that cannot be attributed to specific physical or psychological causes
- Is always watchful, as though preparing for something bad to happen
- Lacks adult supervision
- Is overly compliant, passive, or withdrawn
- Comes to school or other activities early, stays late, and does not want to go home
- Shows little concern for the child
- Denies the existence of-or blames the child for-the child's problems in school or at home
- Asks teachers or other caregivers to use harsh physical discipline if the child misbehaves
- Sees the child as entirely bad, worthless, or burdensome
- Demands a level of physical or academic performance the child cannot achieve
- Looks primarily to the child for care, attention, and satisfaction of emotional needs
The Parent and Child:
- Rarely touch or look at each other
- Consider their relationship entirely negative
- State that they do not like each other
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