New study estimates child abuse costs Alabama $3.7 billion each year

Published: Apr. 30, 2021 at 10:45 AM CDT
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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - Child abuse not only destroys lives but also costs billions of dollars each year. A newly released study now shows just how much abuse costs the state.

The National Children’s Advocacy Center released new information on Thursday about a study by the University of Alabama showing child abuse costs the state about $3.7 billion dollars a year. The information used in the study was gathered in 2018, according to Executive Director Chris Newlin from NCAC. Even though the most complete data set is not from 2021, Newlin feels this number would be about the same today.

Within the report, the study estimates $2.6 billion dollars of that total is from lost worker productivity of victims.

To help combat this cost, Governor Kay Ivey recently awarded two north Alabama non-profit organizations grant money to help victims of child abuse. The money issued on April 20 will assist help organizations to assist victims in six counties with things like forensic interviews, facility upgrades, mental health treatment, specialized medical exams and family support.

The National Children’s Advocacy Center is getting a $10,000 grant to help with their program, and Newlin said they will use this money to help make sure the children that come into their doors are safe. He believes the impact of child abuse goes well beyond childhood with some suffering some impact their entire lives. With child sexual abuse happening at 75 times the rate of childhood cancer, the NCAC Executive Director said we need to focus on investing more in prevention and intervention now rather than more money later.

“We are agreeing by not investing in child abuse intervention and prevention. We are agreeing to pay that long-term cost. More prison, more drug treatment, more healthcare costs, higher cost of Medicaid just go down the list,” Newlin said. “More employees to respond to this issue both kids when they are victims, and when they are adults and suffering from secondary impacts of this without having received services. The question is do we want to pay now when it’s less expensive or later when it’s more expensive.”

Newlin said their plan for the majority of this money is to buy an air purification system. They will put this system in confined spaces such as medical rooms and waiting rooms to help keep everyone safe during COVID.

“If you are coming to the NCAC and you are worried about your child, and possibly physical abuse and you are worried about them already there’s a heightened worry about going into a place they’ve never been before. Being able to let people know there are these steps in place already,” Newlin said.

The center will put up a matching donation of $2,500.

Copyright 2021 WAFF. All rights reserved.

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