As many foreclosed-upon Americans face tough times, a new study shows that the housing crisis has had another dangerous side effect: child abuse. The study — which will be published in the August issue of Pediatrics — shows that the number of hospital-documented child abuse cases corresponds with increases in the mortgage delinquency rate. According to the study:
Between 2000 and 2009, rates of physical abuse and high-risk traumatic brain injury (TBI) admissions increased by 0.79% and 3.1% per year, respectively… Abuse and high-risk TBI admission rates were associated with the current mortgage delinquency rate and with the change in delinquency and foreclosure rates from the previous year.
Essentially, the study found that for every 1 percent increase in the 90-day mortgage delinquency rate, there was a 3 percent increase in the rate of child abuse requiring hospital admission. Researchers collected data from from about 40 U.S. hospitals and connected the information to unemployment, foreclosure, and mortgage delinquency figures in each hospital’s geographic region.
The study’s lead researcher, Dr. Joanne Wood, said she started the study because her colleagues were seeing an increase in cases of child abuse requiring hospitalization. Wood discovered that children whose families had a more insecure housing situation were far more likely to be abused.