Poverty and Abuse

September 22, 2010


According to the Census Bureau, the number of people living below the poverty line in 2009 was the largest number since records were first kept in the 1950’s.  The poverty threshold in 2009 was $10,956 for one person and $21,954 for a family of four.

There is a correlation between poverty and child abuse. In fact, according to the American Humane Association, poverty is the #1 indicator of child abuse and neglect. Some other facts:

  • Poverty is the single best predictor of child abuse and neglect. Children who live in families with an annual income less than $15,000 are 22 times more likely to be abused or neglected than children living in families with an annual income of $30,000 or more. Abused and neglected children are 1.5 to 6 times as likely to be delinquent and 1.25 to 3 times as likely to be arrested as an adult (CDF, 2005).
  • After falling for seven consecutive years during the 1990s, the number of children living in poverty rose for four years in a row to 13 million in 2004; in all, 37 million Americans live below the poverty line. Child poverty has increased by over 1.4 million children since 2000, accounting for more than a quarter of the 5.4 million people overall who have fallen into poverty. More than one out of every six American children were poor in 2004 (CDF, 2005).
  • For every five children who have fallen into poverty since 2000, more than three fell into “extreme poverty,” a term describing families living at less than one-half of the poverty level. This means that these families had to get by on less than $7,412 a year, or $20 a day (CDF, 2005).
  • In 2004, 13.9 million children under age 18 (19 percent of all children) lived in “food-insecure” households (CHP, 2004).
  • Children make up nearly 40 percent of all emergency food clients (CHP, 2004).
  • Families are the fastest growing segment of the homeless population, now accounting for 40 percent of the nation’s homeless (CDF, 2005).

So how can we change this trend in St. Louis? Family Resource Center has several programs that help families stop the cycle of abuse by being able to provide for their family. Our Worksite Mentoring program helps teens learn to become productive employees. FRC’s new PathBuilders program is designed to help families attain self-sufficiency.

There are many ways to help families, but it takes the work of an entire community. For more information on how you can help with this problem, contact us at 314.534.9350.