Why is This Important?
Healthy children in stable families provide the foundation for a sustainable community. Defenseless themselves, children must grow and learn in a safe environment that only adults can provide. When an adult, particularly an adult with a significant relationship to the child, abuses a child, the abuse can profoundly impact the child’s development. Trauma from child abuse can result in lifelong psychological and social impairment and affect academic and occupational performance.
What is a Sustainable State?
In a sustainable state, instances of child abuse are rare and all children grow up in nurturing and safe environments.
How Are We Doing?
· California law defines child abuse as any of the following: a child is physically injured by other than accidental means, a child is subjected to willful cruelty or unjustifiable punishment,A child is abused or exploited sexually, or, a child is neglected by a parent or caretaker who fails to provide adequate food, clothing, shelter, medical care, or supervision.
· In 2009 the most common type of allegation among child abuse referrals in San Mateo County was general neglect (41.9 percent), followed by physical abuse (33 percent) and emotional abuse (12.6 percent). The breakdown of these different types of abuse has not changed significantly since 2005.
· In 2009, 3,781 children in San Mateo County were referred to Child Protective Services as victims of child abuse, just over 2 percent of children under the age of 18 living in the county. The rate of child abuse referrals—23.2 referrals per 1,000 children—has been largely stable for the past 10 years, though it remains less than half the statewide rate (47.2 referrals per 1,000 children).
· Rates of child abuse referrals vary widely across ethnicity, age, and gender. The highest referral rate is for African American children with 76.2 referrals per 1,000 children, about three times the county average rate and five times higher than the rate among Caucasian children. Rates for Hispanic and Native American children are also higher than the county average. This difference may indicate a need to target child abuse prevention programs and services among more at-risk populations.
· From January through June of 2009, the latest time period for which data were available, 26.1 percent of all substantiated abuse cases reported reccurrence of abuse. The recurrence rate is largely unchanged since 1998.
· The number of children entering foster care in San Mateo County decreased in 2009 to 101 children, down more than half from 223 children entering foster care in 2006.