Child abuse is cost­ing coun­tries dear

Hindustan Times (Lucknow) - - Uttarpradesh - The writer is a Class 9 stu­dent of La Mar­tiniere Col­lege (views are per­sonal)

There can be mul­ti­ple causes of child abuse. How­ever, one of the ma­jor causes of child abuse is adap­tional fail­ure or en­vi­ron­men­tal mal­ad­just­ment (both in fam­ily and work place) due to adult per­pe­tra­tors (par­ents, em­ploy­ers).

A re­port from ‘World Eco­nomic Fo­rum’ states—

Child abuse and ne­glect are cost­ing coun­tries in East Asia and the Pa­cific an es­ti­mated $209 bil­lion a year, equiv­a­lent to 2 per­cent of the re­gion’s GDP, re­searchers said in the re­gion’s first study of the eco­nomic im­pact of abuse.

Child abuse af­fects vic­tims’ educa­tion, long-term phys­i­cal and men­tal health and work per­for­mance and in­creases the risk of adult ag­gres­sion, vi­o­lence and crim­i­nal­ity, the re­searchers said.

Some mal­treat­ment is pre­ventable. Ear­lier stud­ies in the United States and Europe, cited by the re­searchers, found that the right forms of pre­ven­tion can re­duce se­vere forms of mal­treat­ment by up to 50 per­cent.

“We all know that vi­o­lence against chil­dren must stop be­cause it is morally wrong. This re­search shows that in­ac­tion about vi­o­lence re­sults in se­ri­ous eco­nomic costs to coun­tries and com­mu­ni­ties,” the UN Chil­dren’s Fund (UNICEF) re­gional di­rec­tor for East Asia and the Pa­cific, Daniel Toole, said in a state­ment.

“Govern­ments need to take ur­gent ac­tion to ad­dress vi­o­lence against chil­dren, both for the sake of the chil­dren them­selves and for the well­be­ing of fu­ture gen­er­a­tions,” he added.

UNICEF com­mis­sioned in­ter­na­tional ex­perts to carry out the re­search. They ag­gre­gated data from 364 pre­vi­ous stud­ies of ne­glect, phys­i­cal, sex­ual and emo­tional abuse, and the im­pact of wit­ness­ing do­mes­tic vi­o­lence, and es­ti­mated the costs in­volved.

The most com­mon form of abuse in the re­gion is emo­tional, which af­fects 42 per­cent of girls in high in­come coun­tries. In China alone it af­fects some two thirds of chil­dren aged 3 to 6 years old.

It also costs the most – $65.9 bil­lion – fol­lowed by phys­i­cal and sex­ual abuse (cost­ing $39.9 bil­lion a year each), ne­glect ($32.4 bil­lion),

CHILD ABUSE AND NE­GLECT ARE COST­ING COUN­TRIES IN EAST ASIA AND THE PA­CIFIC AN ES­TI­MATED $209 BIL­LION A YEAR, EQUIV­A­LENT TO

2 PER CENT OF THE RE­GION’S GDP

and wit­ness­ing do­mes­tic vi­o­lence ($31 bil­lion).

East Asia has one of the world’s high­est lev­els of ill­health caused by child sex­ual abuse.

About one third of men and boys have ex­pe­ri­enced phys­i­cal abuse in lower mid­dle in­come coun­tries through­out the Pa­cific and East Asian re­gion, and 22 per­cent of women and girls have ex­pe­ri­enced sex­ual abuse.

A sep­a­rate study car­ried out in Cam­bo­dia re­cently found that over 50 per­cent of chil­dren ex­pe­ri­ence at least one form of vi­o­lence be­fore the age of 18. About a quar­ter of Cam­bo­dian chil­dren had been emo­tion­ally abused and 5 per­cent sex­u­ally abused.

“All chil­dren have the right to live free from vi­o­lence, which harms their phys­i­cal and men­tal growth and in­hibits the growth of their so­ci­ety and economies,” Toole said.

“Vi­o­lence against chil­dren of­ten takes place be­hind closed doors but it is pre­ventable when peo­ple come to­gether and say loudly and clearly that this is not ac­cept­able,” he added.

Re­sources on child abuse pre­ven­tion, pro­tect­ing chil­dren from risk of abuse and strength­en­ing fam­i­lies in­clude in­for­ma­tion on sup­port­ing fam­i­lies, pro­tec­tive fac­tors, pub­lic aware­ness, com­mu­nity ac­tiv­i­ties, pos­i­tive par­ent­ing, pre­ven­tion pro­grams and the like.

Un­der­stand­ing child abuse pre­ven­tion and what to do when chil­dren are at risk in­cludes fre­quently asked ques­tions and links to re­lated fed­eral and na­tional or­gan­i­sa­tions and state con­tacts that work to­wards prevent­ing child abuse.

Shams Ah­mad

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