Abuse, TBIs, and the Impact on Women and Children

Whenever an AMBER alert is issued, everyone hopes for the best outcome. They hope that the child will be found unharmed and reunited with their worried family, and that their abductor will be brought to justice. When two-year-old Jordan Belliveau from Largo became the subject of an AMBER alert, this was certainly the outcome everyone wanted.

But the search took a devastating turn: Jordan’s body was found in a wooded area in Largo. Worse yet, he was never kidnapped by a stranger, like his mother claimed. During an incident at home, Jordan’s mother reportedly hit him, causing him to hit his head against a wall. Though he was apparently suffering from a serious head injury, his mother did not seek treatment. Instead, she took him to the wooded area and left him there to die. She then fabricated the kidnapping story to explain his disappearance.

Jordan’s death raises so many questions. How could a parent do this to their child? Could someone have intervened to prevent this? What will happen to the mother, who faces first degree murder charges? One thing is certain, though: his tragic story highlights some frightening statistics about children, abuse, and head injuries.

Children and TBIs

Every year, around 2.8 million people in the United States suffer from a traumatic brain injury (TBI). An estimated 329,290 victims are under 19, and children under four are one of the most vulnerable group. While falls and traffic accidents are the main causes of TBIs across most age groups, assault emerges as the leading cause for children under the age of four.

A TBI can occur from many different types of abuse. Physical harm is one obvious cause. TBIs can also result from negligent supervision or from failing to seek medical care after an accidental injury. Perpetrators might be anyone, from a parent or relative to a temporary caretaker, like a babysitter or teacher.

Whatever the cause and culprit, a TBI can have an incredibly dangerous impact on a young child. Since children are much smaller than adults, an injury that might mildly harm an adult could have deadly consequences. Even non-fatal brain injuries can have long-term effects, as children’s brains as still developing; a TBI sustained during childhood could lead to long-term struggles with things like memory, concentration, and mood stability.

The statistics on child abuse in the United States are staggering. A report about abuse is made every ten seconds, and 5 children die from abuse or neglect every day. Fatal abuse can take many forms, but around 44% of all deaths are the result of physical harm.

Female Abuse and TBI Victims

While young children make up many of the victims, they are not the only victims of abuse-related head injuries. Women are another vulnerable group, though their cases are not as heavily documented. According to NPR, about 70% of all ER patients with abuse-related head injuries are not identified as abuse victims. This could potentially be because victims might not want to admit the cause of their injury. For female victims, part of the hesitancy often comes from the fact that their abuser is an intimate partner. 1 in 3 women suffer abuse at the hands of a partner, and 3 women are killed every day by a current or former partner.

Like with any victims of head trauma, female victims of abuse might have  symptoms like memory loss,  headaches, or emotional issues. They are also more likely to deal with depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder, which increases their risk of suicidal behavior.

Despite the current (and incredibly important) focus on preventing brain injuries in young athletes, women and children are a vulnerable group that should not be overlooked. As more people learn statistics on abuse against women and children—and learn how to recognize and prevent it—tragic deaths like Jordan’s can hopefully be prevented.

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The attorneys at Perenich, Caulfield, Avril & Noyes represent those involved in car accidents, motorcycle accidents, bicycle accidents, pedestrian accidents, and other types of personal injury matters. Our firm is one of the oldest personal injury law firms in Tampa Bay. There are no attorneys’ fees or costs unless we prevail for you. Call our office 24 hours a day at 727-796-8282 or simply click here to schedule a free case consultation.

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