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Effects of child abuse may last for several generations

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Posted December 31, 2016

Child abuse is a big problem all over the world. It is usually thought that abused children sort of free themselves when they reach adulthood and can make their own decision, but it is clear that some consequences always remain. Now scientists from UCL revealed that people abused in childhood struggle to stay in work and own homes.

Children have to be children – their abuse or neglect seriously impairs their socioeconomic situation in the future. Image credit: Alberto …. via Flickr, CC BY 2.0

This is one of many researches, which shows how children abuse and neglect can have a long-lasting effect on their socioeconomic situation. Scientists have noticed that these people, who have suffered from abuse and neglect as children, are worse at reading and doing math, but also have considerably lesser living standards than their peers. In this study scientists followed 8,076 people from birth in 1958 until the age of 50 years. The 50 years mark was not selected randomly – it is when people usually earn the most in UK and if the person is doing poorly at this age, it does indicate that he has some challenges related to his socioeconomic skills and background.

The research revealed that those people, who were neglected or abused as children, were 70% more likely to have time off work due to long-term sickness and not own their home at 50 years. This is a tremendously huge difference. Scientists also found that these people who experienced multiple types of child maltreatment were doing especially poorly. For example, if they were both neglected and abused, in comparison with people with no history of abuse, were twice as likely to have time off work due to long-term sickness.

These are quite worrisome results, because it means that these people grow up with a socioeconomic disadvantage. Then, later, their children are raised in poorer conditions also, meaning that effects of child abuse and neglect last for generations. Dr Snehal Pinto Pereira, leader of the research, said: “our research identified poor reading and mathematics skills as a likely connecting factor from child neglect to poor adult outcomes. This suggests that action is needed to improve and support these abilities in neglected children”. However, scientists are not sure about what strategy would address this problem in the most effective way, which is why some more research is needed.

People are always quick to campaign against child abuse in third world countries, ignoring the fact that many children are mistreated everywhere. In this way, this study is an eye opener, because it shows how people in UK suffer from long-term effect of being abused or neglected as children.

Source: ucl.ac.uk

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