Over the past week, we’ve seen two cases of babies being discarded (and saved). This type of news is always particularly disturbing and it highlights the link between poverty and child neglect.
Type in “why do women throw their babies away” into any search engine and you’ll soon realise that this is a global problem. Chat groups cite “desperation, being unable to handle the stress, lack of sleep, the crying and lack of support systems” all appear as “reasonable” explanations.
According to an article on firstfocus.org, “poverty is often considered the single best predictor of child maltreatment, especially child neglect. Data compiled by the Third National Incidence Study of Child Abuse and Neglect indicate that children from families with annual incomes below $15,000 were over 22 times more likely to experience maltreatment than children from families whose income exceeded $30,000. These children were almost 56 times more likely to be educationally neglected and over 22 times more likely to be seriously injured. While poverty is clearly linked with maltreatment, the relationship is not all that simple.
Not all parents who live in poverty abuse their children, and many who do are not poor. The link between child abuse and poverty can be explained in a number of ways. For instance, it is possible that experiencing poverty generates family stress, which in turn, leads to greater likelihood of abuse or neglect. Or perhaps, parents living in poverty do not have access to the resources necessary and are unable to provide appropriate care for children. Or, it’s possible that other factors (e.g., substance abuse) make parents vulnerable and more likely to be both poor and abusive or neglectful.
Children experience neglect more often than any other forms of maltreatment. Lack of housing and transportation, in addition to access to substance abuse treatment, are common themes in child neglect cases.”