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Report: Foreclosure Increases Linked to Child Abuse

PHOTO: "Bank owned" for sale sign. Photo credit: Deborah Smith
PHOTO: "Bank owned" for sale sign. Photo credit: Deborah Smith
August 7, 2012

BOISE, Idaho - As mortgage delinquencies and foreclosures rise, so do hospital admissions for injuries connected to child abuse. That's the finding of new research based on data from children's hospitals and the real estate market.

As Idaho struggles to get out of the recession, the study authors recommend that health care providers should be aware of the link.

Roger Sherman, executive director of the Idaho Children's Trust Fund, says housing difficulties can cause enormous stress.

"That's really when you start to see the rug pulled out from under families, and it's hard to be resilient when you don't have that anchor."

The research found that for every 1 percent increase in mortgage delinquencies and foreclosures, there's a 3 percent increase in hospital admissions for physical abuse, and a 5 percent increase in traumatic brain injury admissions. Ten years of data were examined.

The report recommends that more outreach be done to make sure families experiencing housing insecurity be informed about cash assistance, food stamps and foreclosure counseling. Sherman says families facing foreclosure often feel isolated, which isn't emotionally healthy.

"Families who feel like they aren't in this alone, we're all in this together. That really is a critical aspect of how we can help our own family and help everybody else's family at the same time."

Idaho still has a few foreclosure hot spots, with Ada and Canyon Counties seeing rates higher than the national average.

The study, "Trends in Child Physical Abuse and The Relationship with Housing Insecurity," was published by the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia's Research Institute. A summary is at bit.ly/O1u202.

Deborah Courson Smith/Deb Courson Smith, Public News Service - ID