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A new study says child abuse shot up in the U.S. areas that saw the most foreclosures. According to lead researcher Dr. Joanne N. Wood of Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, hospital admissions for physical abuse reached an all-time high in 2008, when the market was going bust.
Between 2000 and 2009, there were just over 11,800 admissions for abused children younger than six at 38 hospitals—accounting for 0.28 per cent of nearly 4.2 million admissions overall. In 2008, that rate peaked at 0.3 per cent.
Regardless of the findings, Wood said it’s still too soon to put all the blame on the housing crisis.
“This type of study can’t demonstrate causation. It can only show an association,” she told Fox News. “We don’t know that economic stress causes child abuse.”
Yet the report, published in the journal Pediatrics, indicates there might be something to be said for the pressure that comes with losing everything you’ve worked hard for, which so many Americans did in the recession.
Beyond the uptick in physical abuse, the recession has raised the issue of how a downturn can impact a child’s well-being. As a study published in the Journal of Research on Adolescence showed earlier this year, when parents bicker over money, children internalize the issues in such a way that it damages their self-worth later on. Some teens may turn to drugs or violence, while others will simply act out, leading to run-ins with the law.