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Child abuse exacting terrible toll on victims, society

Guest op-eds

August 12, 2012
Therese Brodowski Scram , The Mining Journal

A report of child abuse is made every 10 seconds. More than five children die every day as a result of child abuse. Approximately 80 percent of children that die from abuse are under the age of 4.

It is estimated that between 50-60 percent of child fatalities due to maltreatment are not recorded as such on death certificates.

About 30 percent of abused and neglected children will later abuse their own children, continuing the horrible cycle of abuse. About 80 percent of 21 year-olds that were abused met criteria for at least one psychological disorder.

Children who experience child abuse and neglect are 59 percent more likely to be arrested as a juvenile, 28 percent more likely to be arrested as an adult, and 30 percent more likely to commit violent crime.

One-third to two-thirds of child maltreatment cases involve substance use to some degree. Children whose parents abuse alcohol and other drugs are three times more likely to be abused and more than four times more likely to be neglected than children from non-abusing families.

As many as two-thirds of the people in treatment for drug abuse reported being abused or neglected as children. Abused children are 25 percent more likely to experience teen pregnancy.

Child abuse occurs at every socioeconomic level, across ethnic and cultural lines, within all religions and at all levels of education. The estimated annual cost of child abuse and neglect in the United States for 2008 is $124 billion. (National Child Abuse Statistics,

It is essential we use the limited resources at our disposal most wisely and ethically, without partisanship, to help the vulnerable victims who suffer from neglect, violence or greed. The innocent, voiceless children must be protected because it is the right thing to do.

In 1991, the Michigan Governor's Task Force on Children's Justice was created to respond to the tremendous challenges involved with the handling of child abuse. The protocol is designed to be adapted at the local level, county by county.

I refer to statistics from the UPCC brochure, "Legislative & Community Priorities 2012-2013. In Michigan, 1 in 4 children lives in poverty and in the Upper Peninsula the poverty rate is higher than downstate. UPCC reports that in the U.P. " the rate of confirmed victims of neglect and abuse rose 40 percent from 10 to 1,000 to 14 per 1,000 in 2011."

I had the honor of being present at the planting of the Memorial Garden at Teaching Family Homes to remember the abused and neglected children. I was told that the incidence of child abuse and child neglect in Marquette County doubled in the last year.

According to the Brookings Institution, suburban poverty, already at a record level of 11.8 percent, will increase again in 2012. There is a direct correlation between poverty and child abuse. Innocent children must not be blamed, but they are too often the victims.

In a recent Mining Journal article, Michigan DHS Director Corrigan indicated the number of CPS (Child Protective Services) cases have increased in Marquette, Alger and Schoolcraft counties due to cases linked to methamphetamines. She said, "While we have 13,000 children in the foster care system, we have thousands of disconnected youth in Michigan. We know we need to turn that around."

"I knew I belonged to the public and to the world, not because I was talented, or even beautiful, but because I have never belonged to anything or anyone else." These are the words of a foster child.

Innocent voiceless infants and children and the frail and vulnerable elderly are non-partisan human beings who need to be protected by the non-partisan probate court system. I am deeply concerned that potentially the well-being and protection of the innocent children and vulnerable elderly could be jeopardized by the gamesmanship of partisan politics.

I have been a member of the non-partisan League of Women Voters for many years. My one and only child, at a very young age, helped me stuff envelopes for the LWV fund raisers.

I am proud she remembers this and I am pleased she is proud of her parents who were poll challengers in the recent primary election, her father's birthday. She is loved and cherished.

Each child deserves to be loved. Each child deserves to live in a safe and secure environment. We must do more in Marquette County to ensure the well-being and safety of our precious children and beloved elderly.

Editor's note: Theresa Brodowski Scram is a retired medical librarian who resides in?Marquette.



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