The Economic Cost of Child Abuse and Neglect in Tennessee

Author: Matthew Harris, Emily Pratt

Publication Date: June 6, 2023

Statistically, there is a one-in-eight chance that a child in Tennessee is a substantiated victim of child abuse by the time they reach adulthood. We estimate the economic impact of substantiated claims of child abuse and neglect in Tennessee to be between $3.33 and $4.97 billion per year. We consider substantiated claims of four types of maltreatment: physical abuse, sexual abuse, drug exposure, and neglect. Efforts to prevent child maltreatment (and to help young victims recover) will yield a literal lifetime of benefits stemming from greater labor force participation, improved population health, decreased rates of substance use disorders, lower incarceration rates, reduced demand for state services, and greater life expectancy. These efforts can include economic supports for families, education efforts for parents, and greater access to mental health and counseling services for both parents and children.