Physical abuse, sexual abuse, or neglect can cause a child to sustain many severe and long term injuries, many of which may be fatal. In many cases of child abuse, a child is inflicted with violence and brutality repeatedly. They may receive beatings over an extended period of time.
A child who is suffering from this form of repeated abuse may experience physical child abuse trauma on a daily basis. This can cause a child to sustain severe and irreversible injuries. A child may become deformed due to bone fractures that are not treated properly. In many instances, a child living in this type of situation will die, many of them from Battered Child Syndrome.
It is estimated that four children die every day due to child abuse trauma or neglect. The majority of these children have not yet reached the age of four. Once a child reaches the age of seven, the likelihood that they will be killed due to child abuse trauma is very small.
Cases of child abuse occur in every racial and socioeconomic group. This growing epidemic has no boundaries and it crosses all lines. Studies have shown that almost half of the annual deaths due to child abuse trauma and neglect were suffered by white children. African-American children made up a little over a quarter of the cases of child abuse that resulted in death, and Hispanic children made up a little under a quarter of child abuse deaths.
The majority of child abuse-related deaths were caused by a combination of different forms of child abuse. It is important to note that neglect accounts for most of the cases of child abuse that result in death, not child abuse trauma. If a parent subjects a child to neglect, it may be deadly.
Often in cases of neglect, a parent will be withholding food or water from a child, and this will result in malnourishment and starvation. Fatal neglect may also take place when a child is left alone, unwatched, and sustains injuries that are deadly because parental supervision was lacking.
An example of this may be if a child drowns or runs into the street and is hit by a car. Another example, which occurred in Boston in 2008, is if a child is not supervised and falls out of a window. In these types of situations, an investigation will take place in order to determine if the incident was accidental or if the child was the victim of neglect.
Medical neglect also accounts for a very small portion of the cases of child abuse that result in death. Medical neglect will occur if a child is not provided with proper healthcare or is not given treatment for illness or injury. Although neglect accounts for the majority of fatalities, physical abuse also frequently turns deadly.
Physical abuse and trauma make up more then a quarter of the child abuse fatalities. In the majority of the cases in which a child is killed due to abuse or neglect, these fatal behaviors and actions are not recorded as the cause of death. If the severity and frequency of these deadly behaviors are not recognized and noted, then people will never understand how widespread and brutal child abuse is. Education is an essential part of prevention.