National call to action: Working toward the elimination of child maltreatment. The economics

Child Abuse Negl. 1999 Oct;23(10):975-86. doi: 10.1016/s0145-2134(99)00073-3.


No reliable estimates exist of the overall costs to society of child maltreatment that will withstand serious examination. Arguably some of the most important human costs of maltreatment are unquantifiable. Moreover, in many cases it is difficult if not impossible to separate the economics of child abuse and neglect from the economics of a host of other problems facing families. Still, even conservative estimates of government spending on behalf of abused and neglected children and their families illustrate that child maltreatment costs society a great deal, with much of that expense going for deep-end intervention rather than family support and prevention. Government expenditures directed at this social problem have grown rapidly since the rediscovery of child abuse in the 1960s and now exceed spending for a number of essential supports for children and families. Moreover, the new era of continuing commitment to child protection in the context of a revised social contract with the nation's poor raises serious questions about the economics of child maltreatment in the future.

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child Abuse / economics*
  • Child Abuse / prevention & control*
  • Child Advocacy / economics
  • Child Advocacy / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Social Support
  • United States