Wealth, access to education, parents’ occupation, health, income, and housing are significant in avoiding any child abuse. Maltreatment occurs when caregivers or parents act or fail to act in a way that causes damage to their children’s physical or emotional health. Child abuse can be deliberate; however, in most cases, it stems from negligence. Most studies confirm that adverse socioeconomic conditions are strongly associated with physical, emotional, and sexual abuse. For instance, Lefebvre et al. found that children living in poor households face development, physical/mental health, and academic disadvantages (2). Generally, child maltreatment remains a significant public health problem that requires social and health care interventions. Unfavorable socioeconomic conditions increase children’s chance to experience victimization, have academic difficulties, and developmental concerns. Thus, to decrease child abuse cases the governmental and social initiatives should effectively decrease the poverty level.
Neglect arises when parents fail to meet the basic needs of children paying them less attention they require. The latter was determined as the most popular form of maltreatment in the US. According to statistics, more than 656,000 cases of child abuse occurred in 2019 (Duffin). There are many different reasons why parents tend to neglect their children. The most important one is poverty that drives parents to spend more time at work to survive. In general, neglect is determined by parental employment status, family structure, and its socioeconomic status. For instance, maltreatment increases in families where both parents are unemployed and leave behind the poverty line. The absence of fathers or their unemployment also increases the chance for negligence. Single working mothers often do not have enough time and money to raise their children, who are instead left in the care of someone who lacks empathy.
Moreover, economic disadvantage and poverty have a significant association with the physical and mental abuse of children. Children who are subject to abuse and poverty are more likely to drop out of high school, develop health problems, and exhibit disruptive behavior (Antai et al. 26). Young people living in higher socioeconomic status households are five times less likely to face any abuse than those living in financially strained families (Lefebvre et al. 1). One of the main reasons behind this phenomenon is the immense stress caused by poverty. It deteriorates parental mental health and changes their general behavior. These elements are usually degraded by the family’s financial inability to meet basic needs such as utilities, food, and housing. Depression anxiety or other disorders that parents may develop often result in regular physical abuse of children. For instance, the feeling of incompetence and low self-confidence makes them lay a hand on their children. Poor parent-child relationships complicate already challenging situations in case of divorce or relationship turmoil.
Other parental risk factors include substance abuse, young caregiver age, and lack of parental skills. Representatives of vulnerable social groups usually early become parents. They are not ready to earn enough money for a living and do not have specific skills and experience caring for children. The economic hardships and other stressors see them abusing various substances, developing mental disorders, and finally maltreating their children. It usually has long-term adverse consequences for children’s physical and mental health (Antai et al. 27). Children living in low-income families and with inadequate parents are more likely to repeat the latter’s’ behaviors and life mistakes. For instance, there are more likely to misuse substances or being involved in criminal.
To conclude, socioeconomic conditions are essential in predicting and preventing child abuse. Adverse conditions such as poverty and low income tend to deteriorate existing relationship issues within the family and degenerate parents’ mental health. Inability to meet basic needs, lack of parental skills, mental issues, and substance misuse usually lead to children’s physical, emotional, and sexual abuse. In other words, adverse socioeconomic conditions play the role of abuse incentive. To decrease the likelihood of maltreatment, the government should provide child and family welfare support, increase the minimum wage, and reduce unemployment.
Antai, Diddy, et al. “Social Determinants of Child Abuse: Evidence of Factors Associated with Maternal Abuse from the Egypt Demographic and Health Survey.” Journal of Injury and Violence Research, vol. 8, no. 1, 2016, pp. 25-34.
Duffin, Erin. “Child Abuse in the US – Statistics & Facts.” Statista, Web.
Lefebvre, Rachael, et al. “Examining the Relationship Between Economic Hardship and Child Maltreatment Using Data from the Ontario Incidence Study of Reported Child Abuse and Neglect-2013 (OIS-2013).” Behavioral Sciences, vol. 7, no. 1, 2017, pp. 1-12.