DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – A study published in the journal Pediatrics suggests the bad economy has ties to a rise in child abuse.
“This year we are up 25 percent of total clients served over last year,” said Dr. Ashley Lind, spokeswoman for the Dallas Children’s Advocacy Center. “What this tells us, is those families who are struggling continue to struggle.”
While the increase in cases isn’t solely connected to the economy, Lind says the numbers show more cases are linked to unemployed single mothers who are under intense stress.
“You see an increase in frustration, an increase in poor coping mechanisms, because there are lots of difficult circumstances in their lives,” she said.
Tanisha Brown wanted a better life for her children, so she and her husband took their tax refund money and moved from Mississippi to Dallas.
Both were unemployed, however, and their money soon ran out.
“It’s been really stressful,” Brown said.
Things have slowly gotten better for her. Her husband now works and her children are enrolled in a daycare that emphasizes education. Brown has been able to weather the storm, unlike many of those who Lind has seen.
But, Brown admits, the economy over the past five years has made life difficult for her family.
“Your light bill is due, your rent is due, everything is due,” Brown said. “But you’re wondering where your next meal is going to come from, and all your children want to do is play. You don’t feel like playing and you try and put on a smile.”
Susan Hoff with United Way Greater Dallas says part of the solution is programs that address the underlying issues that can lead to child abuse like lack of employment and education.
“What we want to do is prevent that and help take away some of those stressors that may be exasperating,” Hoff said.
Those stressors are things that Tanisha Brown can identify with, but have never led her to abuse her children.
She said she’s found a way to stay sane and provide a loving environment for her children, despite her circumstances.
“I try to take a moment to myself and breathe.”