The Tennessee Conservative [By Jason Vaughn] –
A recently released report shows that there is a 1-in-8 chance a child in Tennessee will experience abuse before the age of 18, and the economic impact of that on the state is substantial.
The report was published Tuesday by the Boyd Center for Business and Economic Research at the University of Tennessee, the Second Look Commission, and the Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth.
The report, which only includes first-time substantiated accounts of abuse and not allegations, looked at numbers provided by the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services from 2019-2022. Those numbers include cases of drug exposure, neglect, physical abuse, and sexual abuse.
While consideration of the effect that abuse has on children is of utmost importance, the purpose of this particular report was to look at the economic impact of child abuse on the state.
According to lead research Matt Harris, Tennessee spends anywhere from $3-5 billion each year because of child abuse. Harris says these statistics can help to drive important policy changes.
“The costs are bigger than a DCS operating budget,” Harris told the Tennessean. ‘The consequences of this, including the economic ones, ripple over the life course of an individual.”
According to the report, Tennessee ranks among the lowest in the nation in the well-being of children, and Harris says it is important to look at how funding can be obtained to pass legislation that would better address the issue of abuse.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says that child abuse rates are most likely about three times higher than the substantiated cases show, and researchers provide a list of possible positive outcomes if more funding is placed on prevention rather than dealing with the effects of abuse.
The report states, “Efforts to prevent maltreatment (and to help young victims recover) will yield a literal lifetime of benefits stemming from greater labor force participation, improved population health, decreased rates of substance use disorders, lower incarceration rates, reduced demand for state services and greater life expectancy.”
This report comes on the heels of another report regarding the welfare of children in the state, published by the Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth last month. According to data in that report, more than 18% of Tennessee children are living in poverty, nearly 13% have food insecurity, and 6% lack health insurance. Additionally, more than 20% of Tennessee children were chronically absent from school.
About the Author: Jason Vaughn, Media Coordinator for The Tennessee Conservative ~ Jason previously worked for a legacy publishing company based in Crossville, TN in a variety of roles through his career. Most recently, he served as Deputy Director for their flagship publication. Prior, he was a freelance journalist writing articles that appeared in the Herald Citizen, the Crossville Chronicle and The Oracle among others. He graduated from Tennessee Technological University with a Bachelor’s in English-Journalism, with minors in Broadcast Journalism and History. Contact Jason at news@TennesseeConservativeNews.com