State agencies across the country are reporting a rise in child abuse and neglect as the economy deteriorates. Also, law enforcement officials, looking at past recessions, are predicting an increase in abuse. As parents with dwindling resources fall prey to their demons, state safety nets simply can’t stand up to the increased strain.
Similar stories have surfaced in other regions, according to anecdotal and official reports. The Illinois department of child and family services, for example, reported a 5.8 percent rise in child abuse cases in the state in 2008. In the Chicago area, child abuse cases rose more than 9 percent last year.
Child abuse cases in Ohio, a state hit hard by the recession, topped 100,000 for the first time in 2007 and have continued to rise, according to the Public Children Services Association of Ohio, a nonprofit association of agencies charged with child protection.
“Many of our county agency directors tell us their child abuse reports have risen,” said the group’s director, Crystal Ward Allen, whose agency relies heavily on local revenue drawn from property taxes, which have collapsed in the recession.
“Our basic safety net is really faltering,” she said.