Child Abuse and Neglect Threat Grows During Recessions
Make Prevention a Priority During April Ė Child Abuse Prevention Month

¬†(Raleigh, NC) Ė April 1, 2002 Ė Economic downturns can be perilous times for children.¬† As parents in North Carolina wrestle with the frustrations of financial uncertainty, the potential for child abuse and neglect can rise. Right now, the need to prevent child abuse and neglect is more critical than ever.

ďWeíre hearing loud and clear from social workers and others in the field that the economic hard times are putting a dangerous strain on families.¬† We donít need to wait for another study to tell us that thereís a link between recession and child abuse and neglect,Ē explained Jennifer Tolle Whiteside, executive director of Prevent Child Abuse North Carolina and co-chair of the NC Child Fatality Task Force, a legislative study commission.

In North Carolina last year, more than 102,000 children were reported to child protective services as alleged victims of child abuse or neglect.¬† And 30 children died last year as a result of child abuse.¬† ďAs reports of child abuse and neglect continue to grow, especially during a recession, our need for prevention becomes even more critical.¬† People think prevention just means reporting child abuse and neglect, but it doesnít.¬† Prevention means stopping abuse before it starts,Ē said Jennifer Tolle Whiteside.¬†¬†

Prevention Programs Help Curb Abuse and Neglect

During April, Child Abuse Prevention Month, agencies all across the state are conducting local public awareness campaigns and community-based events to educate people about child abuse and neglect and get them involved in local prevention efforts. To find out more about April events that may be happening in your community, check out the April events calendar at  

In addition to educating the public about prevention, another key way to reduce child abuse and neglect is targeting prevention programs to new parents.¬† Nearly half of all fatalities due to child maltreatment occur before the childís first birthday.¬† Most physical abuse and neglect occurs among children under the age of two.¬† Even for parents considered to be at high risk for maltreatment of their children, programs like Healthy Families North Carolina can make a world of difference.¬† Healthy Families North Carolina is a voluntary home visitation program which promotes positive parent-child interaction, improving child health and development, and preventing child abuse and neglect. The program reaches more than 50,000 parents in 420 communities nationwide.¬†¬†

ďPrograms like Healthy Families can help reduce the stress faced everyday by parents; stress that is often exacerbated by poor economic conditions,Ē said Jennifer Tolle Whiteside.¬† ďBut these programs donít just happen, we need adequate funding for them.¬† Unfortunately, current federal spending on programs aimed at preventing child abuse and neglect averages only about $1.06 per family each year.Ē¬†¬†

Prevention Funding Needed

As Congress looks to balance a challenging budget in the current economic climate, Prevent Child Abuse North Carolina is working to ensure that this is not done at the expense of our nationís children.¬† According to a 2001 national study by Prevent Child Abuse America, the cost of child abuse and neglect in the U.S. causes a staggering financial drain Ė estimated at $94 billion annually - on social, medical, and judicial services.¬† Yet, the long-term effects to our society are far greater.¬† Victims are less likely to succeed in school and more likely to exhibit behavior disorders.¬† They are more likely to engage in criminal behavior, have problems with substance abuse, and develop chronic illness.¬† In sum, the direct costs incurred as a result of child maltreatment Ė for services including hospitalization, mental health care, and law enforcement Ė dwarf those spent on prevention by 400 to 1.¬†¬†¬†¬†

ďUnderstanding the tremendous imbalance between what we invest on the front end to prevent abuse and neglect before it happens and what we spend as a consequence after it occurs is critical for our policymakers,Ē says Jennifer Tolle Whiteside.¬† ďUntil we recognize the value of prevention and invest adequate resources to support prevention activities, we will never eradicate child abuse and neglect.Ē¬†

New PSA Campaign Launched Nationwide

To assist in educating the general public about how to help protect our nationís most vulnerable citizens, Prevent Child Abuse America and itís state chapter, Prevent Child Abuse North Carolina, recently launched a nationwide public service advertising (PSA) campaign aimed at preventing child abuse and neglect before it begins.¬† The campaign is debuting in the midst of one of this countryís worst economic slumps in years.¬†¬†

The campaign, ďA Child is Helpless Ė You Are Not,Ē was developed in partnership with the Advertising Council and Lowe Lintas & Partners Worldwide and funded by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.¬† This campaign shows, more strongly than ever, that prevention is possible.¬† The PSAs educate viewers and give them a sense of hope that they can do something to help prevent child abuse and neglect.¬† The campaign, which debuts during Child Abuse Prevention Month in April, includes television, radio and print distribution in both English and Spanish, as well as localized versions for North Carolina.¬†¬†

The Advertising Council is a private, nonprofit organization, which has been the leading producer of public service communications programs in the U.S. since 1942.  Ad Council campaigns have helped save lives and educate the public about issues and concerns of the day.  To learn more about the Ad Council and its campaigns visit

Prevent Child Abuse North Carolina is the only statewide, nonprofit organization dedicated to the prevention of child abuse and neglect in all its forms. Its statewide network of affiliated agencies and numerous volunteers work to implement child abuse prevention programs in local communities. Prevent Child Abuse North Carolina advocates for effective public policy for children and families, increases public awareness, and provides training for both professionals and volunteers. As a state chapter of Prevent Child Abuse America, we are part of a national prevention network

For more information about child abuse and neglect prevention, call 1-800-CHILDREN or visit   

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