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Poverty Causes Child Abuse (From Child Abuse: Opposing Viewpoints, P 91-95, 1994, David Bender and Bruno Leone, eds. -- See NCJ-159823)

NCJ Number
B H McNeill
Date Published
5 pages
The leading cause of child abuse in the United States is poverty; an increasing number of parents find themselves unable to cope with the stresses of poverty and their children often bear the brunt of parental frustration through physical abuse and neglect.
The poorest group of people in the United States is children; 13 million children fall below the government's officially declared poverty line, and most poor children live in households headed by single women. According to 1989 Census Bureau figures, 45.8 percent of white children, 68.2 percent of black children, and 70.1 percent of Hispanic children living in households headed by a single female are poor. Statistics also show that the incidence of child abuse is significantly increasing. Many child protective services indicate that lower socioeconomic classes are disproportionately represented among all child abuse and neglect cases known to public agencies. Economic, sociocultural, and interpersonal factors in poor families create a situation of severe economic stress, hardship, and dependency and threaten adequate family functioning. Perpetrators of child abuse are almost always parents or relatives who have easy access to the child. Even, the causal link between poverty and child abuse is denied by many individuals because admitting that poverty causes child abuse is admitting that capitalism causes child abuse. Poor parents need to learn better parenting skills and to encounter a more humane economic and political system that is concerned with the welfare of all people.