Tuesday, February 02, 2010

In depth analysis of child abuse

The fourth study into the incidence of child abuse in the US has just been released. A study has been conducted each decade from the 1970s. It collects data from 126 counties.

There is no NZ equivalent. We have statistics (bits here and bits there) but no comprehensive analysis of other factors like socio economic background, family structure, educational enrolment, relationship of perpetrator to child, involvement of drugs and alcohol etc. It seems to me that we could learn a lot from their findings. Certainly the findings put to bed the sorts of claims commonly heard like, "child abuse and domestic violence happens right across society".

The report is 455 pages. I have only skimmed through it and lifted a dew points of interest


The NIS–4 measures the total number of children who are abused or neglected in the United States and indicates the degree to which this number has changed since the earlier cycles collected similar data (the NIS–1 in 1979, the NIS–2 in 1986, and the NIS–3 in 1993).

Some findings;

Compared to children with employed parents, those with no parent in the labor force had 2 to 3 times the rate of maltreatment overall, about 2 times the rate of abuse, and 3 or more times the rate of neglect. Children with unemployed parents had 2 to 3 times higher rates of neglect than those with employed parents.

Children in low socioeconomic status households had significantly higher rates of maltreatment in all categories and across both definitional standards. They experienced some type of maltreatment at more than 5 times the rate of other children; they were more than 3 times as likely to be abused and about 7 times as likely to be neglected.

Children living with their married biological parents universally had the lowest rate, whereas those living with a single parent who had a cohabiting partner in the household had the highest rate in all maltreatment categories. Compared to children living with married biological parents, those whose single parent had a live-in partner had more than 8 times the rate of maltreatment overall, over 10 times the rate of abuse, and nearly 8 times the rate of neglect.

Which again brings me back to why marriage makes a difference to children. In a nutshell the state has discouraged marriage through the welfare system and legislation. Today it is frantically running around trying to mop up the mess.

(Hat tip to Crusader Rabbit for alerting me to the report.)


Anonymous said...

Your analysis is so backward. Poverty is associated with abuse. So helping parents by helping them economically helps children. Don't know how you could be so wrong. You must have blinders on.

Lindsay Mitchell said...

Explain then how after many decades of helping parents economically through benefits, abuse has worsened.

The best form of economic help is employment.

Anonymous said...

Anon, get real. The welfare state is overbloated and out of control. It pays people to have kids, for the wrong reasons. This is why adoption has gone out the window and abuse is rife.