Many Abused Children Fall Through Cracks

Study finds most not given mental health care for aftereffects of trauma

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MONDAY, July 26, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- Each year, more than 600,000 children seen in the U.S. child welfare system for alleged abuse or neglect are not given mental health care for the aftereffects of their abuse.

So reports a study in the August issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry.

Researchers at Duke University analyzed nationwide data on children and adolescents investigated by child welfare agencies for reported abuse or neglect. There are about 1.7 million children and adolescents involved in such investigations each year.

The researchers found that 48 percent of the children had "clinically significant" emotional or behavioral problems, but only one-fourth of them received specialized mental health care.

Children with certain characteristics were more likely to receive mental health services, such as preschool-aged victims of sexual abuse or children with a severely mentally ill parent.

But black children were less likely to receive help, as were children not placed in foster care -- a particular concern, given that 90 percent of victims of alleged maltreatment continue to live in their parents' home, the study said.

More information

The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services has more about child abuse and neglect.

SOURCES: American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, news release, July 21, 2004

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