Many studies have been done showing that child abuse can lead to many unfortunate outcomes later in life. In “F is for Facts” you saw that children who experience child abuse and neglect are 9 times more likely to become involved in criminal activity. These startling numbers show once again that child abuse affects everyone. It is a human race problem when the actions of abusive and neglectful family life create a traumatic environment that is insufficient for proper mental, physical and social growth.
Being abused or neglected as a child increases the likelihood of arrest as a juvenile by 59%, as an adult by 28%, and for a violent crime by 30% according to a study published in 2001 titled “An Update on the ‘Cycle of Violence’”. We have an huge justice system in this country and we also have a very extensive child protection system but they do not always work together and when a victim falls through the cracks of the protection system they often end up in our jails, further victimized and removed from the help they need to recover.
This graphic from the US Census shows the reported child abuse numbers by state, giving you an idea of the impact in your area if you do the math of how many of these children are going to end up committing a crime.
There is a way to make the system work better. Some cities are instituting some smart processes that could make an impact but many are not. I invite you to view this short video on Innovations in the Juvenile Justice System and think about what can be done to in your area to help victims not become part of the system.