How Poverty Affects Children's Safety
The relationship between child maltreatment and recessions is complex, but research indicates that both recessions and poverty increase the likelihood that children will experience maltreatment.
Children in low-income families are more likely to be raised in households with increased parental stress and less engagement with their children.
Parents in poverty also tend to experience greater levels of chronic stress and more negative life events, which are associated with increased risk of abusing or neglecting children. During past recessions, rates of child neglect – though not rates of physical or sexual abuse – have increased.
Poverty – both within the family unit and in the broader neighborhood – is also linked with unintentional injuries. Children in low-income families and neighborhoods face disproportionate risk of injury and are more likely to die from injury than other children.
Why It Matters
Children who are abused or neglected, including those who witness domestic violence, often exhibit emotional, cognitive, and behavioral problems, such as depression, suicidal behavior, difficulty in school, use of alcohol and other drugs, and early sexual activity. Children who are abused or neglected also are more likely to repeat the cycle of violence by entering into violent relationships as teens and adults or abusing their own children. Abuse in childhood also is associated with increased poor health in adulthood.
How Children Are Faring
Rate of Substantiated Cases of Child Abuse and Neglect (Rate per 1,000): 2009
Region Result California 10.0 Southern California Average 9.7 Southern California Range 3.7 (Ventura) – 12.0 (Riverside)
Unintentional Injury Hospitalization Rate, Ages 1-4 (Rate per 100,000): 2009
Region Result California 242.6 Southern California Average 251.4 Southern California Range 191.8 (Imperial County) – 280.7 (Los Angeles County) See slideshow
Note: California figures and Southern California ranges are presented as reported in the original data source. Southern California averages, however, have been calculated. Specifically, population estimates for children within the same age range as the original indicator within each county, and Southern California as a whole, were used to create the weighted averages presented. See slideshow for more details about the data source.
What First 5s Are Doing
County commissions are committed to supporting programs that help prevent childhood injuries and deaths.
Orange's Operation Keeping Kids Safe provides in-home injury prevention education, and distributes/installs child safety devices for those families with children 0-5 living in motels. The commissions also funds a Parent Children Interaction Therapy Clinic to provide training to parents who are violence-prone, child abusing and other parents living in the county.
LA's Partnerships for Families is a child abuse prevention program designed to address the needs of pregnant women and families with children age five years or younger who are at risk for child maltreatment.
Riverside funds an evidenced based home visitation model (Healthy Families America) designed to work with overburdened families who are at risk for child abuse and neglect and other adverse childhood experiences.
San Bernardino's child safety programs served over 8,800 parents with health and safety education sessions, leading to a documented decrease in child abbuse recurrence. In addition, First 5 San Bernardino recently conducted an extensive Water Safety Public Awareness Campaign.
Santa Barbara focuses on reducing child abuse through its network of family resource centers (FRC's) and their partnership with the Santa Barbara County Department of Social Services.
San Diego supports projects that provide early intervention services for children who are entering the foster care system through Child Welfare Services (CWS). These projects ensure that young children receive the continuity of care needed to address developmental and social/emotional issues and maximize children's readiness to learn and thrive.
Imperial County funds advocates for children whose families are involved with the court system to support family reunification.