Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Sobering statistics from the national health survey on children: part 1

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare report "A Picture of Australia's children 2009" contains sobering statistics about children.

The media has focussed on children being obese. I'll focus in this article about deaths and injuries to children from assaults and self-harm.

Key national indicator: Assault (homicide) death rate for children aged 0–14 years

In 2006–07, among children aged 0–14 years:
  • There were 27 deaths due to homicide, a rate of 0.7 per 100,000 children (Dearden & Jones 2008).
  • Among children, the rate of homicide was highest among 0–4 year olds (1.9 per 100,000 children) and declined to 0.6 among 5–9 year olds and 0.2 among 10–14 year olds. The rate among children aged 0–4 years was the fifth highest of all age groups, while the
    lowest rate was among 10–14 year olds


Key national indicator: Assault hospitalisation rate for children aged 0–14 years


In 2006–07, among children aged 0–14 years:

  • There were around 800 hospital separations due to assault—a rate of 20 per 100,000 children .
  • Hospital separations for assault were more common among infants than children aged 1–14 years, and were almost twice as common among boys as girls.
  • In 45% of hospitalised cases for assault, the perpetrator was either a parent, carer or other family member.
  • The most common form of assault leading to hospitalisation was assault by bodily force (43% of assault hospital separations among children).
  • The assault hospital separation rate decreased by 14% between 1998–99 and 2006–07, with the rate of decline for girls greater than for boys over this period (20% and 11% decline, respectively).


Key national indicator: Intentional self-harm hospitalisation rate for children aged 10–14 years


In 2006–07, among children aged 10–14 years:

  • There were around 570 hospital separations for intentional self-harm—a rate of 41 per 100,000 children, a 35% increase since 1998–99 (30 per 100,000 children). This has been driven by an increase of almost 50% in the rate for girls, from 47 to 70 per 100,000
    children. By contrast, the rate for boys was the same in 2006–07 as in 1998–99 (13 per 100,000 children).
  • The majority (84%) of intentional self-harm hospital separations were for girls (a rate of 70 per 100,000 children compared with 13 for boys).


Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children


Among children aged 0–14 years:

  • The injury death rate for Indigenous children was more than 3 times that for non-Indigenous children in 2002–2006 (data from Queensland, Western Australia,
    South Australia and the Northern Territory only).

Child Protection


Headline Indicator: Children aged 0–12 years who were the subject of a substantiation of a notification received in 2007–08


Nationally, among children aged 0–12 years:
􀁴􀀁 Around 26,200 children were the subject of one or more substantiations of a notification received in 2007–08—a rate of 7.4 per 1,000 children.
􀁴􀀁 Between 1999–00 and 2004–05 the substantiation rate increased by 59% (Figure 34.1), before levelling off and then declining from 2005–06 to 2007–08.
􀁴􀀁 Substantiation rates were highest for infants (16 per 1,000 children)—at least twice the rate recorded for older children (7.5 per 1,000 for 1–4 year olds, 6.5 and 5.8 per 1,000 for 5–9 and 10–12 year olds, respectively). This is partly due to an increased focus on early intervention for infants, as infants are recognised as requiring extra care and protection.


The main type of abuse reported was emotional abuse, reported in 39% of substantiations, followed by neglect (28%), physical abuse (24%) and sexual abuse (9%).

Care and Protection Orders


Key national indicator: Rate of children aged 0–12
years who are the subject of care and protection orders


Among children aged 0–12 years in 2008:


􀁴􀀁 Around 25,000 children were on care and protection orders (7.1 orders per 1,000 children), an 88% increase since 2000, when the rate was 3.9 per 1,000 children (Figure 34.2).
􀁴􀀁 Infants were less likely to be on a care and protection order than older children (4.2 orders per 1,000 infants compared with 7 for older children).


The increase in the number of children on care and protection orders partly reflects the increasing number of families that are considered unable to adequately care for children, but may also be due to changing community standards in relation to child safety. Some of
the increase may also be a flow-on effect from the greater number of cases substantiated over the last 5 years and the accumulation of children in the system as children remain on orders for longer periods of time. The increased duration of care and protection orders reflects the
increasing complexity of family situations faced by these children (Layton 2003; Tennant et al. 2003; Vic DHS 2002).


Are rates of child abuse and neglect different for Aboriginal and Torres Strait
Island children?


Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are over-represented in the child protection system. Indigenous 0–12 year olds were the subject of a substantiation of a notification received in 2007–08 at 8 times the rate of other children, and were also on care and protection orders at 8 times the rate of other children.


Key national indicator: Rate of children 0–14 years Victims per 100,000 children
who have been the victim of physical or sexual assault


In 2003, physical assault was the most commonly reported crime against children:
􀁴􀀁 A reported 12,400 children aged 0–14 years were victims of physical assault—a rate of 309 victims per 100,000 children.
􀁴􀀁 Children aged 10–14 years were physically assaulted at more than 4 times the rate of children aged 0–9 years.
􀁴􀀁 Rates were 50% higher among boys than girls (367 per 100,000 compared with 244).

In the same year, around 7,500 children aged 0–14 years, or 187 in every 100,000 children, were the reported victims of sexual assault:
􀁴􀀁 Sexual assault rates were higher for children aged 10–14 years than for children aged 0–9 years (277 and 142 per 100,000 children, respectively ), and three-quarters of reported victims were girls.


Rates of reported sexual assault were higher for older girls (aged 10–14 years) than for 0–9 year old girls (more than twice as high), but rates for boys were similar for both age groups.
For boys, reported rates of physical assault were much higher than for sexual assault (367 per 100,000 boys and 89, respectively); however, for girls this pattern was reversed (244 per 100,000 girls and 291, respectively).


Children aged 0–14 years were less likely to have been reported victims of physical assault than those aged 15 years and over (309 in every 100,000 compared with 920). However, they were more likely to have been the reported victim of sexual assault (187 in every 100,000 compared with 68) (ABS 2004c).

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