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Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Mortgage default, foreclosure and Child Abuse

Many who have worked in the area of child abuse know that stress in family can be related to increased risk for abuse in a household. There has been recent suggestions that child abuse may be down in the economically struggling United States. A new article to be published in the journal Paediatrics puts a damper on such hope.

However, the article does show an important link between mortgage delinquency and foreclosure trends. Child abuse went up as these economic hardship factors also increased. The team looked at data from 38 hospitals meaning that the numbers are quite robust. The research concludes:

CONCLUSIONS: Multicenter hospital data show an increase in pediatric admissions for physical abuse and high-risk TBI during a time of declining all-cause injury rate. Abuse and high-risk TBI admission rates increased in relationship to local mortgage delinquency and foreclosure trends

The research also noted that unemployment did not show such a causation.

From a public policy perspective,  this really helps us to see that families facing the effect of losing housing are really under significant stress which affects the safety of children. This might well suggest that the appropriate intervention is to help find some form of place to live that offers dignity and safety for a family.

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