Report: More Latinos View Child Abuse as a Serious Public Health Problem


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Most Americans view child abuse and neglect as a public health problem, a sentiment more strongly shared among Latinos (81%) than their White (76%) and Black (74%) peers, according to a new survey.

The national survey of adults, led by Research!America and the National Foundation to End Child Abuse and Neglect, also found that Latinos were more likely than their peers to list child abuse and neglect as local problems, too.

More than 1 in 3 Latinos also said they know know someone who has experienced child abuse and neglect.

“The survey reveals that child abuse and neglect is all too pervasive and must be addressed as a public health problem,” said Mary Woolley, president and CEO, Research!America. “Robust funding for research and public health programs is essential in order to ensure evidence-based strategies are being deployed to protect children and families at risk.”

Latinos and Childhood Trauma

Neglect and abuse are two types of childhood trauma.

These traumas—and others such as poverty and parental divorce or incarceration—can have negative, lasting effects on children’s wellbeing. These traumas also impact a child’s brain and body.

About 46% of U.S. children experience trauma.

About 77.8% of Latinos experienced at least one traumatic event in childhood, according to a national study of 5,117 Latinos ages 18-74. This is a key highlight of a Salud America! research review, The State of Latino Early Childhood Development.

In the Research!America survey, most respondents said child abuse and neglect contribute to depression, problems at school, violence, substance use disorder and suicide. Latinos again were more likely than any of their peers to say child abuse and neglect contribute “a great deal” to depression and problems at school.

Tackling the Issue

All survey groups said it is important to increase federal funding for research on child abuse and neglect.

latino child abuse survey statsMost Latino respondents (62%) said best treatments for victims of abuse and neglect should be the top priority in research.

Most Black respondents (61%) said identifying causes of abusive behavior and treatment to stop it was most important.

All groups indicated child and family services bear the responsibility for ending child abuse, followed by state and federal governments, and law enforcement. They agreed that state and federal governments should fund research to better understand, prevent and intervene in child abuse and neglect. Non-profit organizations, the private sector (industry) and academia should also play a role. Healthcare providers also should work to identify families at elevated risk of child abuse and neglect.

Many view early education and family support services as “very important” to decreasing the likelihood of child abuse and neglect: Latinos (74%), African-Americans (66%) non-Hispanic Whites (65%), and Asians (62%).

“These results demonstrate that the American public know that child abuse and neglect are significant health and public health problems for them and their communities and reinforces our belief that the time is ripe for a national effort to support research, training and prevention,” said Richard Krugman, MD, Chair of the Board of the National Foundation to End Child Abuse and Neglect.

What can you do?

Learn more about childhood trauma and sign-up for our Action Pack to make “trauma-sensitive” schools!

Request your trauma action pack!

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