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Curbing poverty may lower rates of child abuse, study suggests

A new study from the American Academy of Pediatrics details the impact of tax credits on child well-being, as Hechinger reports, even as policymakers debate whether to expand them.

The study found a significant decrease in reported child mistreatment cases in the weeks after families received federal child and earned income tax credits. During the pandemic, tax credits helped boost millions of families out of poverty.

These findings are particularly relevant as Congress debates whether to expand the child tax credits, which originated as a form of pandemic relief. The advance credit provided $250 to $300 each month directly to families.

Child maltreatment touches many lives. Roughly 1 in 4 children experience child abuse or neglect at some point in their lives, experts say, and poverty has long been associated with an increased likelihood of child maltreatment. The American Academy of Pediatrics study used broad child maltreatment data from the National Data Archive on Child Abuse and Neglect, which includes physical, emotional and sexual abuse as well as neglect.