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Yet the families of child abuse and neglect victims are often not active in social and political organizations.Unable to speak for themselves or employ paid representatives to promote their interests, they have been discounted and overlooked in the process of determining what social problems deserve public resources and attention from the American research community.Such guidance can evolve from research on the outcomes of alternative responses to reports of child abuse and neglect, results of therapeutic and social service interventions, and cost-effectiveness studies.
(2) If 1 percent of severely abused children suffer permanent disabilities, the annual cost of community services (estimated at $13 per day) for treating developmentally disabled children would increase by $1.1 million.
(3) The future lost productivity of severely abused children is $658-1300 million annually, if their impairments limit their potential earnings by only 5-10 percent.
Many forms of child abuse and neglect are treatable and avoidable, and many severe consequences of child maltreatment can be diminished with proper attention and assistance.
Research on child abuse and neglect provides an opportunity for society to address, and ultimately prevent, a range of individual and social disorders that impair the health and quality of life of millions of America's children as well as their families and communities.
These decisions include the selection of cases of suspected child abuse and neglect for investigation and determinations about which children should remain with families in which abuse has occurred.
Individuals making such decisions will benefit from informed guidance on the effectiveness and consequences of various social interventions that address child maltreatment.Although more adults are available in American society today as service providers to care for children than was the case in 1960, a disturbing number of recent reports have concluded that American children are in trouble (Fuchs and Reklis, 1992; National Commission on Children, 1991; Children's Defense Fund, 1991).Efforts to encourage greater investments in research on children will be futile unless broader structural and social issues can be addressed within our society.Child maltreatment is a devastating social problem in American society.In 1990, over 2 million cases of child abuse and neglect were reported to social service agencies.In the period 1979 through 1988, about 2,000 child deaths (ages 0-17) were recorded annually as a result of abuse and neglect (Mc Clain et al., 1993), and an additional 160,000 cases resulted in serious injuries in 1990 alone (Daro and Mc Curdy, 1991).However tragic and sensational, the counts of deaths and serious injuries provide limited insight into the pervasive long-term social, behavioral, and cognitive consequences of child abuse and neglect.Research on the etiology of child maltreatment can provide a scientific basis for primary prevention of child abusethat is, through programs that will counteract etiological factors before they have a chance to produce child abuse in the next generation. Although no specific theory about the causes of child abuse and neglect has been substantially replicated across studies, significant progress has been gained in the past few decades in identifying the dimensions of complex phenomena that contribute to the origins of child maltreatment.Efforts to improve the quality of research on any group of children are dependent on the value that society assigns to the potential inherent in young lives.Reports of child maltreatment alone also reveal little about the interactions among individuals, families, communities, and society that lead to such incidents.American society has not yet recognized the complex origins or the profound consequences of child victimization.