How YOU can help

How Child Abuse Affects Us All

Societal Costs of Child Abuse:

Individuals who are victims of child abuse face emotional, cognitive, physical and behavioral development challenges at higher rates than children who are not abused.  Children who are abused are more likely to suffer from:

  • Attention deficits
  • Depression
  • Violent aggression
  • Obesity
  • Alcoholism
  • Drug usage
  • Cigarette addiction
  • Perform poorly in school
  • Develop unhealthy relationships
  • Attempt suicide

Because of these and many other behavioral, mental and physical health, educational and criminal issues related to the effects of child abuse, the monetary costs to individuals, communities, and society at large that are associated with child abuse are enormous.  In 2012, Prevent Child Abuse America released a study that measured the cost of child abuse and neglect in the U.S at $80 billion, or nearly $64,000 per child.  Including costs for

  • Hospitalizations
  • mental health treatment
  • child welfare system
  • law enforcement
  • special education
  • early intervention
  • adult homelessness
  • mental health and health care
  • juvenile and adult criminal justice
  • lost work productivity.

This information taken from the Prevent Child Abuse Iowa website.

The Science:   ACEs

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study is one of the largest ever conducted to assess the connection between childhood maltreatment and later-life health and well-being. Childhood abuse, neglect, and exposure to other traumatic stressors, which we term Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), are common.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website also states that the lifetime outcomes of these childhood exposures to abuse, neglect, and family dysfunction include a multitude of health and social problems. The ACE Study findings suggest that certain experiences are major risk factors for the leading causes of illness and death as well as poor quality of life in the United States and has demonstrated that as the number of ACEs increase, the risk for the following health problems also increases:

  • Alcoholism and alcohol abuse
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • Depression
  • Fetal death
  • Health-related quality of life
  • Illicit drug use
  • Ischemic heart disease (IHD)
  • Liver disease
  • The risk for intimate partner violence
  • Multiple sexual partners
  • Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)
  • Smoking
  • Suicide attempts
  • Unintended pregnancies
  • Early initiation of smoking
  • Early initiation of sexual activity
  • Adolescent pregnancy

ACE's Probability Chart

It is crucial to understand how some of the worst health and social problems in our nation can arise as a consequence of adverse childhood experiences. Realizing these connections is likely to improve efforts towards prevention and recovery.

For more Information about ACEs, visit:

What is clear from these studies is that child abuse affects everyone. We can significantly reduce the costs associated with treating child abuse by investing in programs that prevent child abuse from happening, but it will take everyone working together to support Iowa’s families.