County report: Child abuse victims and perpetrators tend to be young
A disproportionate percentage of victims of severe physical child abuse in San Diego County tend to be infants, and the perpetrators are often younger parents or caregivers, according to a report released Wednesday.
The San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency examined the most severe physical child abuse cases locally over the past 18 months to look for trends.
Of the 51 cases cited in its report, nearly 60 percent involved children 3 months old or younger, according to the HHSA.
There were 10 fatalities, five of which involved children 4 months old or younger, according to the report. Sixteen children had five or more broken bones and two of them had two dozen bone fractures.
Pam Slater-Price, chair of the San Diego County Board of Supervisors, said the findings were “disturbing and disheartening.”
“One child living in an abusive environment is one child too many,” she said.
The study also found that 45 percent of the female perpetrators of severe physical child abuse cases and 35 percent of the male perpetrators were under the age of 22.
HHSA Director Nick Macchione said “stresses” in the lives of young families may be a contributing factor to the high number of cases involving young parents.
“These stressors include things like a recent job loss, financial difficulties or having more than one young child at home,” Macchione said. “These parents often tend to feel isolated and alone and have a very limited support system.”
HHSA officials encouraged residents to keep a watch out for the potential signs of child abuse or endangerment, including spousal jealousy over a new baby in the home, controlling behavior, prior child welfare services history, unwanted or unplanned pregnancy, violence toward adults or domestic violence incidents in the past year.
The county’s Child Abuse Hotline can be reached round-the-clock at (858) 560-2191 or (800) 344-6000.