Every child comes into the world filled with tremendous potential and the promise for the future. Potential that may lead to transformational innovations, social justice, and renewed economic vibrancy. We, as a community, have a shared obligation to foster this potential and build on this promise.
As our country and the world are now taking critical steps to recover from the crisis of COVID-19 and its resulting economic collapse, we must work together to promote positive conditions in communities that help reduce stress, strengthen families and allow children to thrive. We also must take steps to mitigate the conditions that negatively impact wellbeing. This will take all of us — parents, caregivers, educators, health providers, faith-based leaders, government and civic leaders, and businesses.
To help communities take action, Safe & Sound has updated its research on The Economics of Child Abuse: A Study of California & Its Counties, and our interactive website, economics.safeandsound.org. With this update we share the most recent data regarding important characteristics within each community — Community Protective Factors — that research shows are linked to lower rates of child maltreatment. Community Protective Factors include fostering Equitable Access to Essential Needs; Social Support and Connection; Social Contract; Racial and Social Justice; and Support for Building Individual Protective Factors.
The website also details the rates of child abuse and the economic impact of abuse in each county across California, as well as the factors within our communities that place children and families at risk. For California, the total cost of child maltreatment was $23.9 billion for last year alone. These costs include the impact on our economy, healthcare, criminal justice, and education systems! Reducing or eliminating child maltreatment could free up enough dollars to provide preschool for more than 2 million children across our state. Although we have quantified the cost of child abuse, it’s impossible to quantify the impact of abuse on a child, their family, and our community — with one single instance our society has been degraded. We’re talking about real lives, not a data point. The fiscal impact on communities underscores our moral mandate to end child abuse once and for all.
The data is viewable by county or region, downloadable, and shareable so you too can join us in advocating for the safety of children.
We have an opportunity now to transform the way we invest in children, families, and communities. While we are all impacted by the current health and economic challenges, it is incumbent upon us to ensure the safety of children, bring awareness to the detrimental effect this crisis is having on them, and help create a path to a brighter future for us all.
Now is the time for communities to come together to strengthen families. Because, when we build community and strengthen families, we protect children. We ask you to join us in using this startling data to raise awareness, and inspire action. We all have a role to play to stand up, speak out, and create communities where every child has the opportunity to thrive.
– Katie Albright, Chief Executive Officer