A new study at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health found that the annual economic impact of child sexual abuse in the U.S. is far-reaching and costly: In 2015, the total economic burden was approximately $9.3 billion and includes costs associated with health care, child welfare, special education, violence and crime, suicide and survivor productivity losses.
The study, published in the May 2018 edition of the journal Child Abuse and Neglect, used data from the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System to gather a full census of all child sexual abuse cases reported to child protective agencies across the U.S. In addition to estimating the 2015 annual cost, the researchers calculated the average lifetime cost per victim based on specific categories such as health care, child welfare, etc. These costs were tied to the incremental effects of child sexual abuse, over and above what the cost would be to someone who wasn’t a victim of child sexual abuse. All costs were estimated in U.S. dollars and adjusted to the reference year 2015 using the gross domestic product deflator.
The highest costs for women and men affected by child sexual abuse – more than $1,000,000 in estimated losses – were associated with the rare cases of fatal child sexual abuse. In 2015, the majority of child sexual abuse survivors were female, 75 percent versus 25 percent male survivors of 40,387 total cases reported in the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System. Nonfatal child sexual abuse was associated with nearly $283,000 in costs over the lifetime of each female survivor. Lifetime costs for male survivors were lower, most likely because the economic impact of child sexual abuse on male survivors is underresearched.
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