The Global Impact of Violence Against Children: Economic, Health, and Policy Perspectives

Friday, February 12, 2016: 1:00 PM-2:30 PM
Harding (Marriott Wardman Park)
Recent work in economics, health, neurobiology, and epigenetics confirms the long-term damage of violence inflicted against children by their caregivers (i.e., child maltreatment or abuse). Research in neurobiology and epigenetics shows that exposure to violent home environments causes brain adaptation and overactivation of stress response mechanisms. This predisposes children to physical health issues as adults (e.g., hyptertension, type II diabetes); mental health issues (e.g., heightened risk of suicide, depression, violence towards one’s own children); and risky behaviors (e.g., use/abuse of alcohol, tobacco, and illicit drugs). Longitudinal studies in high income countries demonstrate the magnitude of the economic costs involved. Children who were maltreated are less likely to be employed as adults, and are more likely to earn lower wages and own fewer assets. Until recently, much less was known about this issue in low- and middle-income countries. In the last decade, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has collected comparable data from 60 countries, and summative reports, such as the UN Secretary General’s World Report on Violence Against Children and the World Health Organization’s Global Status Report on Violence Prevention, have been published. New economic studies from across East Asia suggest that losses associated with violence against children are approximately 1% of the national income, which is similar to the statistic for high-income countries, making this a key policy consideration for the post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals agenda.
Susan Horton, University of Waterloo
Susan Bissell, United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF)
Zulfiqar Bhutta, Center of Excellence in Women and Child Health, The Aga Khan University
James Mercy, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
The Epidemiology of Violence Against Children
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