The Economics of Child Abuse: A Study of California

While the impact of maltreatment on a child and their family is devastating, child maltreatment also has serious effects far beyond those for the victim. Maltreatment results in ongoing costs to taxpayers, institutions, businesses, and society at large. Local communities bear the brunt of these costs in the form of medical, educational, and judicial costs, though more tragic signs are seen in homelessness, addiction, and teen pregnancy. To create a concrete understanding of the widespread and detrimental impact of child maltreatment to California, the attached report articulates the detrimental effect in dollars. We estimate the cumulative lifetime costs associated with victims with verified cases of maltreatment in California in 2017, is $19.31 billion — conservatively. This estimate is based only on the verified victims we know about. But, there are so many more children out there, suffering in silence without support or resources. Given that child maltreatment is vastly underreported, the total economic burden to the state could be as much as $284 billion per year.

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