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Child abuse costs Canada 16 billion yearly, victims bear most of costs.

OTTAWA -- Child abuse cost Canadian society almost $16 billion in 1998 at a minimum and the greatest costs of more than $13 billion were incurred by the individuals who were victims of abuse, says a recently released study called The Economic Costs and Consequences of Child Abuse in Canada.

Personal costs to abuse victims, which authors Audra Bowlus, Katherine McKenna, Tanis Day and David Wright say have been historically ignored when the effects of child abuse have been studied, "have larger repercussions" beyond the individuals and affect the economic well being of the country as a whole.

Personal costs, such as lost wages and employment of $11 billion, are also lost from the Gross Domestic Product, which combined with the "multiplier effect of every dollar not earned and spent, the results become much vaster," particularly in lowering the country's productivity and lowering government revenues.

The answer, the researchers say, is not to engage in false economies by saving dollars in the short run through ignoring or cutting programs to help families, but to invest more in effective prevention and treatment programs, particularly in early intervention programs, which lower the overall costs of child abuse and provide "the greatest chance" for a "reduction of the multiplier effects consequent to abuse."

They stress the need for new country-wide research on child abuse to replace the most current survey, which is Ontario Health Survey Mental Health Supplement that is 13 years old.

In addition to collecting data on child abuse and its costs, the type of organizations and data Collected need to be both expanded and better co-ordinated between agencies and government departments, including increased consistency in recording cases of child abuse by hospitals, welfare agencies, police and schools.
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Title Annotation:Child, Family And Youth
Publication:Community Action
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1CANA
Date:Oct 25, 2004
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