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Child Abuse Costs: Direct and Indirect

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June 11, 2012

ST. PAUL, Minn. - Responding to cases of child abuse and neglect costs the nation more than $80 billion a year, according to the latest survey from Prevent Child Abuse America.

That figure includes a number of "direct costs," according to Becky Dale, senior director of prevention initiatives for Prevent Child Abuse Minnesota.

"Direct costs include things like acute medical treatment, mental-health care, the child-welfare system, law enforcement. Those kinds of things are the costs immediately when an incident of child abuse or neglect occurs."

Dale also cites the indirect costs, including early intervention, special education, emergency transitional housing and health care.

In 2010, Minnesota recorded more than 17,000 reports of child abuse and neglect. About one-fifth of those were confirmed, affecting nearly 4,500 children.

Despite the huge costs, Dale notes that the figure has been going down during the past decade.

"A lot of that has to do with really great prevention programs that are starting to emerge more and more, as well as responses to trauma that are happening. So, there's some good news even though the numbers are big. They indicate that we still have a lot of work to do, too."

Dale says it's much less expensive to prevent child abuse and neglect before it starts than to respond to it.

The report and more information is online at

John Michaelson, Public News Service - MN