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Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Child abuse statistics - what's real

In the United States, child protection services have been indicating that the rates of child physical abuse have been decreasing. Critics of child protection services, as well as those who are focused on prevention services, have trumpeted these numbers. Reason to celebrate whenever there are indications that child physical abuse is decreasing.

However, a new study published on October 1 through the online version of the journal, Paediatrics, suggests that there is another way to look at the data. They focused on serious child abuse which included head injuries, burns and fractures. The data showed a modest increase of 5%.

Both sets of data are useful. The first looks at the broader picture, although it may represent a number of differences in how cases are reported to child protection agencies. Thus, it might be report affected as opposed to being a true me sure of frequency. The more recent data tells us though, that the serious cases remain a growing problem. Public policy should focus on that truth.

A question now opens - to what degree is this trend true in other countries.

Leventhal, J.M. & Gaither, J.R.. (2012)  Incidence of serious injuries due to physical abuse in the United States: 1997 to 2009Pediatrics, online, DOI:10.1542/peds.2012-0922

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