Tuesday Talking Points: Economic Impact of Child Sexual Abuse

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Dr. lori Leachman, Professor of Economics – Duke University

Even if you were not sexually abused as a child, even if no one in your family was sexually abused; child sexual abuse impacts your life.

The immediate and tangible costs of intervention and treatment for a single incident of substantiated child sexual abuse are $14,345. These expenses are largely paid for by the public sector –the taxpayer. In fact, the U.S. spends $3.4 billion annually for the immediate costs of child sexual abuse. Long-term expenses and losses attributable to child sexual abuse add $35 billion annually.

In the Charleston area, the direct and immediate costs of child sexual abuse are over $6.5 million dollars annually. The long-term costs and losses caused by child sexual abuse in Charleston are over $67 million dollars annually.

Add to this the fact that child sexual abuse is a root cause of many other devastating and expensive societal problems. For instance, 60% of first teen pregnancies are preceded by an incident of child sexual abuse. Young girls who are sexually abused are three times more likely to develop psychiatric disorders and/or substance abuse problems in adulthood than girls who are not sexually abused. Male survivors of child sexual abuse are 70% more likely to seek psychological treatment for issues such as substance abuse, suicidal thoughts and attempted suicide.

Except for murder, child sexual abuse is the most expensive victim crime in the U.S.

Who Pays? You do.

It only costs $10.00 to train an adult to improve their child-protective behaviors. Research suggests that the average trained adult will better protect at least ten children from sexual abuse in the years after training. That’s $1.00 to better protect a child.

The money saved by preventing just one substantiated case of child sexual abuse would pay for prevention training for 1,362 adults. That training would result in 13,620 children better protected from abuse. You do the math.

Prevention is the answer.

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