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Child abuse costs the Asia Pacific region US$209 billion

Saturday 6 June 2015 | Published in Regional


PACIFIC – Unicef has for the first time put a figure to the cost of Child abuse in East Asia and the Pacific and it comes in at a 209 billion US dollars per year.

A communication specialist for Unicef Asia Pacific, Andrew Brown, says the figure is a wake-up call for the region’s governments.

He told Radio New Zealand that the situation for most Pacific countries is worse than in East Asia.

“Everybody knows that child abuse is wrong. That it is morally wrong and that it has to stop.

“But what we have been able to show with this research is that it also has a serious impact on economies and we have costed that at US$209 billion a year. And that is equivalent to around two per cent of GDP.

“And so this allows us to go to governments in the region and not just make a moral case for taking action against child maltreatment but to also make an economic case.

“And we can see the impact on things like healthcare systems, on increased levels of violence and criminality and all of these things have a knock on impact on the economy.

“These are estimates based on individual country level research but then we are able to create estimates across the region and we can break that down into, for instance, low middle and high income countries. Actually the prevalence is highest in middle income countries.

“What we are encouraging countries to do is to then do specific national studies. Certainly we know that in Pacific countries this is a major issue.

“In countries like Papua New Guinea for instance and some of the other Pacific islands there are very high rates of gender based violence but in this report we don’t go to the level of specific countries, we take a regional overview.

This is the first time that this research has ever been done so we really didn’t know what the scale was. And we are confident that with the right action we can get these figures down.”